A Mind Bending Physics Theory: Did Dark Stars Form The Universe?

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The hunt for dark matter has been heating up once again, driven (as usual) by tantalizing experimental hints. This time the hints are coming mainly from outer space rather than underground laboratories, which makes them harder to check independently, but there’s a chance something real is going on.

Think of everything we know that exists in the Universe – the huge cosmic furnaces like our Sun.

The gas giants that dwarf our own planet. Strings of asteroids rushing through the emptiness of space. And the far-off stars, blazing suns thousands of light years from our own.

All of this takes up less than 5% of the mass of the Universe. And the rest? Some of it is still a mystery.

There is one element that may make up as much as 25% of the Universe. We can’t see it or feel it. It doesn’t interact with light. It doesn’t even share the basic building blocks, the electrons and protons inside the atoms found in all matter.

To be precise and brief, the standard model of cosmology tells us that only 4.9% of the Universe is composed of ordinary matter (i.e. that which we can see), while the remainder consists of 26.8% dark matter and 68.3% dark energy.

Theoretical astrophysicist Katherine Freese is one of those on the hunt for these mysterious building blocks.

Thirty years ago, her theories about an unseen glue that helped shape the Universe led to the building of underground particle accelerators around Earth, such as the machines at Cern in Europe. And the particle they are looking for? They are called Wimps, and according to Freese, stars made of this illusive stuff may even have helped create the cosmos, billions of years ago.

So what exactly are Wimps?

Wimps (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) are large particles that do not interact with electromagnetic forces. This makes them “dark” – they can’t be observed using the electromagnetic sensors humanity has been scouring the Universe with over the last century.

Why we cannot interact with them?

But thanks to the theory of supersymmetry – which suggests every known particle will have an “anti-matter” equivalent – there is a gap in our current atlas of particles, and Wimps seem to fill that hole admirably. They are everywhere, but leave no trace because they are so reluctant to interact with the conventional particles surrounding them.

So if Wimps exist – and Freese believes they do – they would have first sparked into existence soon after the Big Bang.

Freese investigated this theory with fellow astrophysicists Paolo Gondolo for the University of Utah and Doug Spolyar from the University of Stockholm in Sweden. They were, essentially, searching for the first “dark stars” formed in the earliest days of the Universe. Despite their name, the ancient dark stars would have blazed brilliantly – powered by the dark matter annihilating. And some might live on in the far reaches of the Universe, shining intensely. The dark stars would have started out about as massive as the Sun, but they could have kept growing until they’re a million times the mass of the sun and a billion times as bright.

The next major telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope could be able to discover dark stars.

Now if you do that, not only has an entirely new type of star been found, which is incredibly exciting, but it would also be proven that it has to be powered by Wimps. So the real problem would be solved as well. It could signal an end to one of the most challenging quests in modern science. Scientists have been trying to solve the problem of dark matter since the 1930s, but that there were hints to their possible existence even before that. This would only change everything we know.

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