Origin of Milky Way's hypothetical dark matter signal may not be so dark
A mysterious gamma-ray glow at the center of the Milky Way is most likely caused by pulsars — the incredibly dense, rapidly spinning cores of collapsed ancient stars that were up to 30 times more massive than the sun. That's the conclusion of a new analysis by an international team of astrophysicists, including researchers from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The findings cast doubt on previous interpretations of the signal as a potential sign of dark matter — a form of matter that accounts for 85 percent of all matter in the universe but that so far has evaded detection.«Our study shows that we do not need dark matter to understand the gamma-ray emissions of our galaxy,» said Mattia Di Mauro from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute of Stanford University and SLAC. «Instead, we have identified a population of pulsars in the region around the galactic center, which sheds new light on the formation history of the Milky Way.»Di Mauro led the analysis for the Fermi LAT Collaboration, an international team of researchers that looked at the glow with the Large Area Telescope (LAT) on NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, which has been orbiting Earth since 2008. The LAT — a sensitive «eye» for gamma rays, the most energetic form of light — was conceived of and assembled at SLAC, which also hosts its operations center.
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