A team of theoretical astrophysicists has studied in detail a hypothetical form of dark matter that combines to form dark atoms. They found that the presence of dark atoms can greatly influence the evolution of galaxies.
We do not understand the vast majority of matter in the universe. We call it dark matterBut this is the best we have. As far as we know, dark matter consists of a new type of particle currently unknown to modern physics. Whatever the particle, it does not interact with light and does not interact with normal matter except through gravitational force.
Because we do not understand this mysterious substance, we have a lot of space to play with in our own theoretical models. Some of these models indicate that dark matter is not made from a single type of particle that blankets the universe. Alternatively it can be made up of different types of particles. There could also be new forces of nature, beyond the four we know, that only operate among dark matter particles.
In this picture, different components of dark matter can clump together to form dark atoms, and even more complex molecules and structures. Importantly, in these models dark matter can clump together very tightly. A team of researchers used this fact to explore the consequences of these dark atom models using simulations of dark atom evolution galaxies.
They found that atomic dark matter can coalesce very quickly, forming a “shadow disk” to align with the disk of stars in a typical galaxy. From there the dark atoms continue to clump together, forming the equivalent of dark stars and dark black holes. It can even quickly sink into the galactic core, rapidly increasing the density there.
All of these effects of atomic dark matter would be invisible on cosmic scales. But it will greatly affect the evolution of stars within the galaxy. Stars are formed from the collapse of matter and any of it gravity effect It can influence the course of star formation.
The researchers found differences in star formation rates, star populations, and distribution in a galaxy containing dark atoms versus a galaxy containing only one component of dark matter. The researchers hope that these findings will be useful in further identifying this mysterious substance that dominates our universe.
Research published on arXiv Prepress server.
Sandeep Roy et al., Simulation of Atomic Dark Matter in Milky Way Isotopes, arXiv (2023). doi: 10.48550/arxiv.2304.09878
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