Science

White Dwarfs Could Possibly Unlock Secret To Dark Matter

By Rodney Rafols , Aug 30, 2016 03:00 AM EDT
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How does it look when earth is bombarded with dark matter?

White dwarfs are stars that are nearing the end of its life cycle. Compared to our Sun, a white dwarf is much cooler. Scientists though wonder why some white dwarfs cool much faster than others and speculate that dark matter might somehow be involved in its fast cooling.

Dark matter has long been speculated to exist though it has never been directly observed. The only way it could be observed is to see how objects around it react. If an object behaves differently than it normally would, then there is a chance that dark matter might be near it. This could be the case for white dwarfs that cool faster than they normally would.

How scientists determine that is by analyzing different white dwarfs and compare their analysis together. On its own, each white dwarf's result would not be particularly interesting, though once the data are taken together then scientists begin to see the bigger picture.

That is part of the presentation given by Maurizio Gianotti and his team last August 4 at the International Conference on High Energy Physics. In the team's presentation it noted that the white dwarfs would grow dimmer and then brighter periodically. Based on its observations then, the team has noted that the rate at which the white dwarfs observed cooled has been much faster, as Science News for Students reports.

While dark matter might be speeding up the cooling of some white dwarfs, another type of dark matter might be slowing the process of cooling down. Some years back Dan Hooper and his colleagues at Fermilab has noted that some of these white dwarfs don't cool as much and would reach a certain temperature, at which point then they would stop the cooling process. Hooper speculates that a type of dark matter called an inelastic dark matter might be involved in it, according to Physics World.

In this case then the search would be for unusually warm white dwarfs instead of fast cooling ones. These warm white dwarfs might be evidence then of inelastic dark matter near it. Hooper believes that such white dwarfs might be found in galactic centers, where many white dwarfs reside.

Much about dark matter is still viewed skeptically by many physicists though its study is being continued. One difficulty about dark matter is that it can't be observed directly, and much relies on observations on objects around it. The study of white dwarfs might yet prove to be the eky to knowing more about dark matter and its relation to our universe.

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