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Fermi Hints at Dark Matter

Using public data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, independent scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Harvard University, MIT and the University of Chicago have developed new maps showing that the galactic center produces more high-energy gamma rays than can be explained by known sources and that this excess emission is consistent with some forms of dark matter.

No one knows the true nature of dark matter, but WIMPs, or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, represent a leading class of candidates. Theorists have envisioned a wide range of WIMP types, some of which may either mutually annihilate or produce an intermediate, quickly decaying particle when they collide. Both of these pathways end with the production of gamma rays -- the most energetic form of light -- at energies within the detection range of Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT).

The galactic center teems with gamma-ray sources, from interacting binary systems and isolated pulsars to supernova remnants and particles colliding with interstellar gas. It's also where astronomers expect to find the galaxy's highest density of dark matter, which only affects normal matter and radiation through its gravity. Large amounts of dark matter attract normal matter, forming a foundation upon which visible structures, like galaxies, are built.

When the astronomers carefully subtract all known gamma-ray sources from LAT observations of the galactic center, a patch of leftover emission remains. This excess appears most prominent at energies between 1 and 3 billion electron volts (GeV) -- roughly a billion times greater than that of visible light -- and extends outward at least 5,000 light-years from the galactic center. The researchers find these features difficult to reconcile with other explanations proposed, such as undiscovered pulsars. The gamma-ray spectrum of the excess, its symmetry around the galactic center and its overall brightness, is, however, consistent with annihilations of dark matter particles in the mass range of 31 and 40 GeV.

The scientists note that discoveries in other astronomical objects, such as dwarf galaxies, and experiments on Earth designed to directly detect dark matter particles will be needed to confirm this interpretation.

For more information: Fermi Data Tantalize With New Clues To Dark Matter

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Another multimedia item related to this story:
     Fermi Observations of Dwarf Galaxies Provide New Insights on Dark Matter (id 10943)

This animation zooms into an image of the Milky Way, shown in visible light, and superimposes a gamma-ray map of the galactic center from NASA's Fermi. Raw data transitions to a view with all known sources removed, revealing a gamma-ray excess hinting at the presence of dark matter. The final file below--labeled MPEG--is an animated GIF. Visible light imagery provided by Axel Mellinger, Central Michigan Univ. Credit: NASA Goddard/A. Mellinger (Central Michigan Univ.) and T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)    This animation zooms into an image of the Milky Way, shown in visible light, and superimposes a gamma-ray map of the galactic center from NASA's Fermi. Raw data transitions to a view with all known sources removed, revealing a gamma-ray excess hinting at the presence of dark matter.

The final file below--labeled MPEG--is an animated GIF.

Visible light imagery provided by Axel Mellinger, Central Michigan Univ.

Credit: NASA Goddard/A. Mellinger (Central Michigan Univ.) and T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)
Duration: 30.0 seconds
Available formats:
  1920x1080 (29.97 fps) QT         529 MB
  1920x1080 (29.97 fps) QT         828 MB
  960x540 (25 fps) WEBM         91 KB
  1920x1080 (29.97 fps) QT         327 MB
  1920x1080 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   96 MB
  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         18 MB
  3840x1536 TIFF         16 MB
  3840x1536 JPEG         4 MB
  1920x768   TIFF         5 MB
  1920x768   JPEG         958 KB
  1000x400 (25 fps) GIF           585 KB
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Side-by-side maps, with labels. At left is a map of gamma rays with energies between 1 and 3.16 GeV detected in the galactic center by Fermi's LAT; red indicates the greatest number. Prominent pulsars are labeled. Removing all known gamma-ray sources (right) reveals excess emission that may arise from dark matter annihilations. Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)    Side-by-side maps, with labels. At left is a map of gamma rays with energies between 1 and 3.16 GeV detected in the galactic center by Fermi's LAT; red indicates the greatest number. Prominent pulsars are labeled. Removing all known gamma-ray sources (right) reveals excess emission that may arise from dark matter annihilations.

Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)

Available formats:
  6782 x 4025     JPEG       7 MB
  1820 x 1080     JPEG       1 MB


Side-by-side maps, without labels. At left is a map of gamma rays with energies between 1 and 3.16 GeV detected in the galactic center by Fermi's LAT; red indicates the greatest number. Prominent pulsars are labeled. Removing all known gamma-ray sources (right) reveals excess emission that may arise from dark matter annihilations. Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)    Side-by-side maps, without labels. At left is a map of gamma rays with energies between 1 and 3.16 GeV detected in the galactic center by Fermi's LAT; red indicates the greatest number. Prominent pulsars are labeled. Removing all known gamma-ray sources (right) reveals excess emission that may arise from dark matter annihilations.

Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)

Available formats:
  6782 x 4025     JPEG       7 MB
  1820 x 1080     JPEG       1 MB


Movie, no labels, dissolving from the unprocessed map to one with sources removed and back to unprocessed. Details as above. The first file--labeled MPEG--is an animated GIF. Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)    Movie, no labels, dissolving from the unprocessed map to one with sources removed and back to unprocessed. Details as above.

The first file--labeled MPEG--is an animated GIF.

Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)
Duration: 6.0 seconds
Available formats:
  400x400 (25 fps) GIF           3 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) QT         52 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) QT         10 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) QT         1 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   523 KB
  900x900     TIFF         2 MB
  900x900     JPEG         162 KB
  900x900     JPEG         506 KB
  320x180     PNG           61 KB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         398 KB
How to play our movies


Movie, with labels, dissolving from the unprocessed map to one with sources removed and back to unprocessed; details as above. The first file--labeled MPEG--is an animated GIF. Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)    Movie, with labels, dissolving from the unprocessed map to one with sources removed and back to unprocessed; details as above.

The first file--labeled MPEG--is an animated GIF.

Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)
Duration: 6.0 seconds
Available formats:
  400x400 (25 fps) GIF           2 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) QT         51 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) QT         11 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) QT         1 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   596 KB
  900x900     JPEG         524 KB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         488 KB
How to play our movies


Frames and video of dissolve sequence from unprocessed to background removed. Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)    Frames and video of dissolve sequence from unprocessed to background removed.

Credit: T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)
Duration: 10.5 seconds
Available formats:
  900x900 (2 fps) QT         5 MB
  900x900 (2 fps) Frames
  900x900 (2 fps) QT         3 MB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) QT         875 KB
  900x900 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   604 KB
  900x900     JPEG         565 KB
  960x540 (2 fps) WEBM         165 KB
How to play our movies


A view of the entire gamma-ray sky from Fermi's LAT instrument, shaded to emphasize the central galaxy. The inset is a map of the galactic center with known sources removed, which reveals the gamma-ray excess (red, green and blue) found there. This excess emission is consistent with annihilations from some hypothesized forms of dark matter. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration and T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)    A view of the entire gamma-ray sky from Fermi's LAT instrument, shaded to emphasize the central galaxy. The inset is a map of the galactic center with known sources removed, which reveals the gamma-ray excess (red, green and blue) found there. This excess emission is consistent with annihilations from some hypothesized forms of dark matter.

Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration and T. Linden (Univ. of Chicago)

Available formats:
  3576 x 2012     TIFF     20 MB
  3576 x 2012     JPEG       1 MB
  1788 x 1006     TIFF       6 MB
  1788 x 1006     JPEG   381 KB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11513
Animation Number:11513
Completed:2014-03-27
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Scientist:Tim Linden (University of Chicago)
Writer:Francis Reddy (Syneren Technologies)
Platforms/Sensors/Data Sets:Fermi/LAT
 Fermi
Series:Astrophysics Visualizations
 Astrophysics Stills
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. However, individual images should be credited as indicated above.
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Galaxy
SVS >> Gamma Ray
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Milky Way
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Pulsar
SVS >> Space
SVS >> Dark Matter
SVS >> Fermi
NASA Science >> Universe
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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