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researcher may have detectedfirst signs of dark matter

3 New Posts Including Researchers may have Detected First Signs of Dark Matter

Link to CosmosUp

Posted: 12 Dec 2014 02:22 AM PST
Dark matter seemed to be a myth to some scientists and a catch-all to others, using it to explain gravitational forces and the orbits of objects in space that just couldn’t be accounted for by the existence of observable, physical matter. It has been theorized that dark matter existed and affected the way the universe functioned as much as physical matter, but until now, dark matter has only been a theory.

Strange and Rare Galaxy Puzzled Astronomers
New Rosetta Data Suggest Earth’s Water Didn’t Come From Comets

Researchers with the European Space Agency say they’ve detected a strange spike in X-rays coming from two cosmic locations — the Andromeda Galaxy and the Perseus Cluster. The astronomers think the strange emissions could be the signal of dark matter. If confirmed, it would be first direct evidence of dark matter.
The Andromeda galaxyResearchers have detected what they believe is the signal of a particle of dark matter coming from the Perseus Cluster and Andromeda Galaxy (click to zoom)

X-ray observations from the orbiting XMM-Newton telescope were examined by the researchers. They removed all signals from known sources and particles. A signal remained that could not be explained by astronomers, through the actions of ordinary matter. “The signal’s distribution within the galaxy corresponds exactly to what we were expecting with dark matter, that is, concentrated and intense in the center of objects and weaker and diffuse on the edges,” study co-author Oleg Ruchayskiy, of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, said in a statement.
“With the goal of verifying our findings, we then looked at data from our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and made the same observations,” added lead author Alexey Boyarsky, of EPFL and Leiden University in the Netherlands.
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The existence of dark matter was first proposed several decades ago when astronomers discovered that normal matter alone could not account for the way stars moved in galaxies. Those stars further from the center of a galaxy should move more slowly than those nearer to that center, but instead, astronomers found them moving just as quickly as their closer-in counterparts. In an effort to explain this apparent anomaly in the rotation of galaxies, scientists theorized the existence of dark matter, a substance neither emit light or any type of electromagnetic radiation.
Physicists estimate the universe has four times more dark matter than normal matter. But because the sole effect dark matter has on ordinary matter is through gravitation, scientists have not been able to pinpoint evidence of dark matter’s existence.

Scientists have proposed a number of different exotic particles as the constituents of dark matter, including weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), axions and sterile neutrinos, hypothetical cousins of “ordinary” neutrinos (confirmed particles that resemble electrons but lack an electrical charge).
The decay of sterile neutrinos is thought to produce X-rays, so the research team suspects these may be the dark matter particles responsible for the mysterious signal coming from Andromeda and the Perseus cluster.
“Confirmation of this discovery may lead to construction of new telescopes specially designed for studying the signals from dark matter particles,” Ruchayskiy’s research partner, Alexey Boyarsky, said. “We will know where to look in order to trace dark structures in space and will be able to reconstruct how the Universe has formed.”

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Posted: 11 Dec 2014 09:46 AM PST
Take a virtual trip around the Solar System and you’ll come to one conclusion pretty quickly: Earth is odd. One of the most significant oddities about our pale blue dot is the vast quantity of liquid water. Astronomers and other scientists have proposed various arguments for how Earth ended up with huge, stable liquid oceans — and now, thanks to research from the Rosetta probe, we’ve got evidence that one prominent theory may not be correct.

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The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft has found the water vapor from its target comet to be significantly different from that found on Earth. The discovery fuels the debate on the origin of our planet’s oceans. The measurements were made in the month following the spacecraft’s arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on August 6. It is one of the most anticipated early results of the mission because the origin of Earth’s water is still an open question.
Rosseta and PhilaeRosseta and Philae

The young Earth was a hot place — so hot that most of its surface water evaporated. At the time, about four billion years ago, the solar system was swarming with asteroids and comets. They pelted Earth’s surface, prompting scientists to hypothesise that maybe it was these objects that helped supply Earth with its oceans. Because comets are known to contain water, they seemed a likely source.
If this were the case, then the chemical signature of Earth’s water would match what is found on comets. Water, of course, is H2O: two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. It can be made from regular hydrogen, which consists of a proton and an electron, or from a type of hydrogen called deuterium, which has an added neutron.
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If Earth’s water came from comets, then the ratios of deuterium to hydrogen would be the same in both Earth and comets. The comet Rosetta is studying, comet 67P is a Jupiter-family (comet from the Kuiper belt) and one of the mission’s goals is to help determine whether comets like 67P could have produced Earth’s oceans. The answer, however, appears to be no. Rosetta’s measurements revealed a deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio about three times higher than that found on Earth, even higher than in the Oort cloud comets.
“This surprising finding could indicate a diverse origin for the Jupiter-family comets – perhaps they formed over a wider range of distances in the young Solar System than we previously thought,” said Dr Kathrin Altwegg of the University of Bern, Switzerland, who is the principal investigator for ROSINA and the lead author of a paper published in the journal Science.

“We knew that Rosetta’s in-situ analysis of this comet was always going to throw up surprises for the bigger picture of solar system science, and this outstanding observation certainly adds fuel to the debate about the origin of Earth’s water,” said Matt Taylor from ESA.
“As Rosetta continues to follow the comet on its orbit around the Sun throughout next year, we’ll be keeping a close watch on how it evolves and behaves, which will give us unique insight into the mysterious world of comets and their contribution to our understanding of the evolution of the solar system.”
This new data isn’t exactly a slam-dunk against the theory of panspermia, which generally holds that life (or molecules vital to the eventual formation thereof) were distributed to Earth from another source, but it does imply that there’s no currently known smoking gun that would tie Earth’s water supply to a vital extraterrestrial source.

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Posted: 11 Dec 2014 03:51 AM PST
Why does time only go in one direction? And why is the future so different from the past? They seem obvious questions, but they have troubled scientists for over a century. A new theory has proposed an answer — that time doesn’t run just one way, and that there is another universe, a mirror of ours, where time runs backwards.

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That’s what a team of scientists argue, including Julian Barbour of the University of Oxford, Tim Koslowski of the University of New Brunswick and Flavio Mercati of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Big BangBig Bang

They analysed a computer simulation model of 1000 particles under the influence of Newtonian gravity, focusing on the dynamic behaviour and distance between the particles. Ultimately, they found that, regardless of size and amount, every configuration of particles would evolve into what’s known as a low-complexity scale. They then expand outward in both directions, creating two different, and opposite “arrows of time”.
“Along each of the two temporal paths, gravity then pulls the particles into larger, more ordered and complex structures — the model’s equivalent of galaxy clusters, stars and planetary systems. From there, the standard thermodynamic passage of time can manifest and unfold on each of the two divergent paths.
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This “mirror” universe would not be exactly the same as ours, though; it would have evolved and changed in its own way, completely separate to our own. However, it would be subject to the same laws of physics, so it would likely have planets, stars and galaxies just like in our version of the cosmos. Explaining the model as a swarm of bees, Dr Barbour says that as time increases, the universe moves from an initial chaotic ‘swarm of bees’ to a more structured and ordered cosmos. ‘If you look at a simple model with a swarm of bees in the middle [the Big Bang] but breaking up in either direction, then you would say there are two arrows of time, pointing in opposite directions from the swarm of bees,’ he said. ‘If you define time as the direction in which order is increasing, you always get two arrows in opposite direction from the central chaotic region.’

However, he notes much more work needs to be done in looking at how time works. “This is opening up a completely new way to think about a fundamental problem, the nature of the arrow of time and the origin of the second law of thermodynamics.
“But really we’re just investigating a new aspect of Newton’s gravitation, which hadn’t been noticed before. Who knows what might flow from this with further work and elaboration?”

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