Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Dark Matter Particles

Atoms have unique fingerprints called absorption and emission spectrums. We touched on this in last week’s post entitled “What Color is the Sun?” Pictured below are rough approximations of the absorption and emission spectrums of hydrogen atoms.

All the colors of the rainbow, except a few are missing.  This is an absorption spectrum.

All the colors of the rainbow, except a few are missing. This is an absorption spectrum.

No rainbow, just a few specific colors.  This is an emission spectrum.

No rainbow, just a few specific colors. This is an emission spectrum.

But atoms, or at least atoms as we know them, only make up a tiny percentage of the physical universe. The rest is composed of dark matter, an invisible yet ubiquitous substance that has puzzled scientists for decades.

We’re aware of dark matter mainly due to its gravitational effects, but also because of its incessantly childish taunting.

We’re aware of dark matter mainly due to its gravitational effects, but also because of its incessantly childish taunting.

Now, astronomers in Switzerland and the Netherlands report that they have detected x-ray flashes in regions of space where large masses of dark matter are predicted to exist. X-ray flashes that look an awful lot like an emission spectrum but do not match the spectrum of any known atom or any other known physical phenomenon.

I know what you’re thinking: holy @$&%, we just found dark matter! But we’re talking about science, which means we have to wear our skeptical hats. Hold off any parties or celebratory gunfire until these observations are confirmed by other researchers and scientists have ruled out alternative explanations for these emission lines. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes we made after BICEP2’s “discovery” of gravity waves.

But still… holy @$&%, we may have found dark matter!

Sources

X-Ray Signal from Andromeda, Other Galaxies Could Be Evidence of Dark Matter from Sci-News.com.

New Signal May Be Evidence of Dark Matter, Researchers Say from Universe Today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: