Dark Matter Possibly Located at Center of Milky Way With Fermi Telescope

Posted on April 7, 2014

Map of gamma-ray excess at center of the Milky Way

Dark matter has possibly been located at the center of the Milky Way using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The left side of the above image is a map of gamma rays with energies between 1 and 3.16 GeV detected in the galactic center using Fermi. The red color indicates the greatest number of gamma rays. The image on the right shows the result when all known gamma-ray sources have been removed. This reveals excess emission that may arise from dark matter annihilations.

Dan Hooper at the Fermi National Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, told New Scientist that "This is the most compelling signal we've had for dark matter particles - ever."

Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), MIT and the University of Chicago have developed new maps that show the galactic center produces more high-energy gamma rays than can be explained by known sources. The researchers say this excess emission is consistent with some forms of dark matter. The galactic center is also where astronomers expect to find the galaxy's highest density of dark matter.

Tracy Slatyer, a theoretical physicist at MIT and co-author of the study, says, "Dark matter in this mass range can be probed by direct detection and by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), so if this is dark matter, we're already learning about its interactions from the lack of detection so far. This is a very exciting signal, and while the case is not yet closed, in the future we might well look back and say this was where we saw dark matter annihilation for the first time."

Here is an animation that zooms into an image of the Milky Way and has the Fermi gamma-ray map superimposed. Take a look:

A copy of the research paper submitted to Physical Review D can be found here.

Image: T. Linden, Univ. of Chicago

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