The Sun with a Dark Heart

New theory suggests that dark matter might gather in the center of the sun…

By Smaranda Biliuti, News Editor 


Dr Stephen West from the Department of Physics at Royal Holloway, University of London, launched an interesting theory about what is happening in the center of the sun. He believes that dark matter is somehow trapped at the sun’s center and it is cooling down its core.

A study carried out by Dr West analyzes the possible effects of dark matter particles on the sun’s properties, if they ever get trapped in the middle. Theory says that dark matter forms a halo around our galaxy. As the sun moves around the galaxy, there is a possibility that it crosses a current of dark matter, of which some might be captured by its gravity. If such thing happens, then dark matter particles would be caught at the center of the sun.

Dr West says that “dark matter makes up more than 80 per cent of the total mass of the universe. We know that dark matter exists but to date it has never been produced in a laboratory or directly observed in any experiment, as a result we have very little information about what it actually is. It is important that we examine all possible ways of probing the nature of dark matter and the sun could provide us with an unexpected laboratory in which to do this.”

Researchers managed to simulate the effect of dark matter gatherings and found out that this phenomenon would reduce the temperature of the sun’s core. As dark matter particles are believed to absorb energy, part of the core’s heat would be transferred to the surface of the sun. If the sun’s core gets cooler, the number of neutrinos coming from its nuclear reactions would be affected. Dr West hopes that by examining these neutrinos, he could find out more about the temperature of the sun’s core and also whether dark matter is important or not in solar physics. All this would also provide information about the mass of individual dark matter particles and about their interactions with elements from the sun.

Dr Stephen West reveals that “the next step in the work is to look more closely at the change in the predicted number of neutrinos produced in the sun as a result of dark matter collecting at the core and to examine the sensitivity of existing neutrino experiments to this change. In addition, an investigation of the possibility of probing this type of dark matter at the Large Hadron Collider is planned. The LHC could provide complimentary information about the properties of dark matter which along with the information from the sun may lead to a clearer picture of one of the more puzzling issues in physics.”

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