Friday, 18 October, 2019


Astronomers detect stars emerging signal, dark matter

Nivedita Mahesh a doctoral student at the Arizona State University USA is one of the five scientists who found the'cosmic dawn, when the first stars lit up the baby universe. Image source Facebook Astronomers detect stars emerging signal, dark matter
Hannah Rogers | 04 March, 2018, 07:05

The new research could also have some bearing on how we understand dark matter - the mysterious form of matter that hasn't been directly observed but seems to dominate 85 percent of the matter in our universe.

Among the leading candidates for dark matter are hypothetical particles known as weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), which are generally estimated to be tens to hundreds of times more massive than protons.

For decades, teams of scientists have been chasing—in fact, racing—to detect the signatures of these first stars. During this period, it's thought that the first luminous sources, such as stars, quasars, and galaxies, appeared in the universe, causing the previously neutral intergalactic medium, made mostly of hydrogen gas, to become ionized. Models predict that the hydrogen should then absorb radiation more strongly in the 50 to 100 megahertz frequency range.

Scientists used EDGES (Experiment to Detect Global EoR Signature), a small ground-based radio antenna located in Western Australia, and funded by the National Science Foundation to detect the primordial hydrogen gas.

"We work with theorists, and we know what theorists expect for this signal produced by the first stars". "Specifically, it was a larger signal". "With future observations we will not only test the reality of the Bowman et al. signal but also be able to map the hydrogen in three dimensions". That means that this new radio signal could help scientists probe new properties of dark matter in the early Universe, and gives scientists a new clue where to search for it. Astronomers said the best explanation was likely hard to find, so called dark matter. Peter Kurczynski, program director at America's National Science Foundation, says if the age of the universe was mapped into a single 24-hour day, it's like finding out what happened 15-20 minutes after the Big Bang.

"This allows us to apply human ingenuity and logic to things that are well beyond our everyday world, and learn things that at first glance we didn't know anything about", said Professor Haswell. "This was first real signal emitted by the stars that began to form", one can read in Nature.

The observatory falls within the official Australian Radio Quiet Zone covering about 260km of WA, making it an ideal site for radio astronomers because there's much less chance of interference from man-made devices such as mobile phones interrupting their attempts to listen into signals coming from space.

But this isn't the only plausible explanation, and we're still waiting for the dust to settle before any definitive conclusions can be drawn. Both would be "very unusual and unexpected", he says. It represents the earliest ever evidence of hydrogen found so far. Thus, the dark matter and the matter interacted, which is contrary to what we can observe now when these two types of matter are not interacting anymore.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. For starters, there are fewer and fewer stars to find. And NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports they got a surprise. Raul Monsalve is an experimental cosmologist at the University of Colorado Boulder.

A group of researchers headed by Judd Bowman from the American University of Arizona was able to detect possible evidence that the first stars in the Universe had existed for 180 million years after the Big Bang. They've published their findings in Nature.

"The only way to cool [the gas] is for something else, which is even colder, to take heat away", said Barkana. He was puzzling over this while driving in the auto with his wife. But in order for the signal to be as strong as it was, the gas must have been even colder than they predicted.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Ah, yes, dark matter. So hydrogen is a key element in our universe, and in the theories of astronomers.

A team of researchers has paved the way to answer questions astrophysicists have long pondered, according to a release from Arizona State University. Monsalve agrees. "Now, it feels exciting of course - but it feels like the beginning of a process", he says.

Shortly after the Big Bang, the universe was dark, devoid of the stars and galaxies that define it today.

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