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Ongoing Debate

MIT: Dark Matter At Our Galaxy’s Core May Be Blasting Gamma Rays

December 12th 19__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Hard Science
NASA/Victor Tangermann

Cold Case

Physicists think they’ve found something unusual at the core of our galaxy: a vast, turbulent cloud of dark matter that’s creating powerful blasts of cosmic radiation.

Back in 2015, scientists from MIT and Princeton ruled out dark matter as the source of the gamma rays, pointing instead to highly-active neutron stars, according to an MIT press release. But after uncovering flaws in the previous team’s models, MIT scientists once again suspect that dark matter is actually to blame, potentially upending our understanding of the Milky Way.

New Model

The team found that the 2015 study’s model was incapable of detecting dark matter at all — so it would always point toward neutron stars as the source of the mysterious cosmic rays. The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Physical Review Letters, revealed the problem by adding fake dark matter signals into the data, which went unnoticed by the model.

“It’s exciting in that we thought we had eliminated the possibility that this is dark matter,” MIT physicist Tacy Slatyer, who worked on both studies, said in the press release. “But now there’s a loophole, a systematic error in the claim we made. It reopens the door for the signal to be coming from dark matter.”

READ MORE: Is there dark matter at the center of the Milky Way? [MIT newsroom]

More on space: Astronomers Find Isolated Galaxy Packed Full of Dark Matter