Mystery galactic glow may be echo of sterile neutrinos

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Image: Chandra: NASA/CXC/SAO/E.Bulbul, et al.; XMM: ESA

Image: Chandra: NASA/CXC/SAO/E.Bulbul, et al.; XMM: ESA

Something shadowy has reached out across the void from deep within the swirling Perseus galaxy cluster. X-ray observations of the cluster, shown here in false colour, have revealed a signal from an unidentified source.

Astronomers using the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton space telescope and NASA’s Chandra telescope found similar signals in more than 70 galaxy clusters. It is possible that these X-rays are being produced by the decay of mysterious sterile neutrinos, as yet undiscovered particles that are predicted to barely interact with ordinary matter.

This lack of interaction makes sterile neutrinos a prime candidate to explain dark matter, the invisible stuff thought to make up most of the matter in the universe. The X-rays have an energy of around 3.5 kiloelectronvolts (keV), which could be produced by the decay of sterile neutrinos that weigh in at 7 keV, close to the mass predicted by dark matter models.


Written by physicsgg

June 25, 2014 at 6:49 pm


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  1. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then chances are it is a duck.

    The question is are there enough sterile neutrinos to make up the mass of dark matter, and if so, what process brought them into existence in such large quantities? Hope so, because all these mystical constructions of suitable WIMPS to account for dark matter leaves me, well feeling sterile!

    For dark matter, I would imagine that such a large fraction of the energy within our universe must be the final result of a similarly large process – like the annihilation of matter anti-matter after the bigus bangus.

    We can test this since we know the proportion of matter left over after annihilation and we know the mass (density) of the universe, therefore we should be able to get a good estimate on the number of neutrinos produced per volume (denisty) and therefore the total mass (density) of neutrinos. Extend this to the visible universe and you have a number that can be compared with dark matter mass estimates.

    On the other side of the ledger, the nuclear process that is required to create neutrinos from matter/anti-matter annihilation (and the foregoing process of converting them to sterile neutrinos whatever they are) should be readily calculable and therefore we should be able to get a theoretical estimate of the mass of neutrinos through such a process too.

    Kostas Mitropoulos

    June 26, 2014 at 1:50 am

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