Dark stars could leave scars across the cosmos

The scars left behind by exploding ‘dark stars’ could allow astronomers to examine the invisible Universe, a new study has found.

Dark matter is the invisible substance believed to suffuse the entire Universe – though as we can only detect it through the effect of its gravity, its nature remains a mystery.

Hubble and Chandra X-ray Observatory image showing dark matter and hot gas in merging galaxy cluster Abell 520. Green is hot gas; blue areas are the location of most of the mass in the cluster, which is dominated by dark matter. NASA, ESA, CFHT, CXO, M.J. Jee (University of California, Davis), and A. Mahdavi (San Francisco State University).

Several theoretical particles have been put forward as candidates for dark matter, including one called the axion.

Recent simulations found that if axions packed together tightly, they would eventually grow to be the size of a star.

This dark star would be highly unstable and eventually explode, leaving scars on the surrounding normal matter.

These scars could be observable using the upcoming Square Kilometre Array telescope. 

“Axions are one of the prime candidates for dark matter,” says Malcolm Fairbairn from King’s College London.

“We discovered that they have the capacity to heat the Universe just like supernovae and ordinary stars after coming together in dense clumps.

“Armed with that knowledge, we know with far more certainty where to point our instruments out in the field to find them.”

www.kcl.ac.uk

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