Scientists using NASA’s Fermi telescope have found something mesmerizing while exploring the Andromeda Galaxy. The Fermi telescope spotted a mysterious signal emitting from the center of the galaxy. While there are a couple of theories as to what the origin of the signal is, experts are still not able to solve the mystery.
According to scientists, the mysterious signals could be evidence of DARK MATTER. Astronomers state that the signal captured by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is eerily similar to the gamma-rays which have been observed in the past at the center of the Milky Way. Interestingly, scientists say that the signal could be coming from numerous sources which they have yet to identify.
One of the options is dark matter say astronomers. It is believed that dark matter accumulates in galaxies’ innermost regions.
According to reports from NASA, the gamma-rays observed in the data obtained by Fermi have an UNEXPECTED distribution. Furthermore, instead of spreading out across the galaxy, for some reason they are concentrated at the center.
Scientists believe that the observed rays are some of the most powerful energy form of light, and are produced when cosmic rays interact with surrounding interstellar gas clouds and light emitting from the stars.
However, researchers are not sure what is producing these rays. One possibility is dark matter, the elusive substance that is responsible for 27 percent of the universe.
“We expect dark matter to accumulate in the innermost regions of the Milky Way and other galaxies, which is why finding such a compact signal is very exciting,” said lead scientist Pierrick Martin, an astrophysicist at the National Center for Scientific Research and the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in Toulouse, France. “M31 will be a key to understanding what this means for both Andromeda and the Milky Way.”
However, another possibility are pulsars located at the center of the Andromeda Galaxy. Pulsars are massive, spinning neutron stars that are believed to weigh twice as much as our sun. Interestingly, they are also believed some of the densest objects ever identified in the universe. Some of them emit most of their energy in gamma rays.
Scientists say that due to the distance of M31 (Andromeda), which is located at a staggering 2.5 million light years from us, it is extremely difficult to spot individual pulsars.
Researchers are hoping that data obtained from observations of the Milky Way and Andromeda could help them get to the bottom of the mystery.
“Our galaxy is so similar to Andromeda, it really helps us to be able to study it, because we can learn more about our galaxy and its formation,” said co-author Regina Caputo, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“It’s like living in a world where there’s no mirrors but you have a twin, and you can see everything physical about the twin.”
Scientists say that even though more observations are necessary to determine the source of the gamma-ray’s, the new discovery provides an exciting starting point to learn more about both galaxies, and perhaps about the still elusive nature of dark matter, writes Phys.org.
“We still have a lot to learn about the gamma-ray sky,” Caputo said. “The more information we have, the more information we can put into models of our own galaxy.”
Featured image: NASA