A team of astronomers led by the University of Texas (UT) in Austin has identified three potential “dark stars” that formed about 320 million years after the Big Bang, making them the first stars ever seen by human eyes.
The image shows three fuzzy dots glowing in the dark of space, but astronomers believe the tiny specs could lead to the discovery of the elusive dark matter.
Dark stars could only exist if dark matter creates heat at the core, preventing the stars from collapsing and causing them to puff up, which the team found in the JWST observations.
Although dark matter accounts for about 85% of the universe, its nature has eluded scientists. The only proof of its existence is the gravitational effect it appears to have on visible matter.
However, if recent discoveries are confirmed, dark stars could reveal the nature of non-luminous matter.
Dark stars have been fables in the scientific community since they were first proposed by the UT team in 2007.
In a new study published in PNASthese researchers proudly announced that their intuition may be correct.
The team believe that dark stars were the only type that could have existed in the early universe, which would be composed “almost entirely of hydrogen and helium from the Big Bang”.
But dark matter would heat up cosmic objects rather than nuclear fusion like modern stars.
“These are very bright diffuse puffy objects and become very massive. In fact, they can reach up to ten million solar masses with up to ten billion solar luminosities,” the researchers wrote.
The three candidate dark stars (JADES-GS-z13-0, JADES-GS-z12-0 and JADES-GS-z11-0) were spotted in galaxies during JWST observations in December 2022 by the Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES).
After further analysis, the JADES team determined that the three stars formed around 320 to 400 million years after the Big Bang.
A recent study published Last week suggests the Big Bang happened 26.7 billion years ago, but UT research is based on previous evidence that it happened 13.7 billion years ago of years.
Katherine Freese, an astrophysicist at UT, said in a statement: “When we look at the data from James Webb, there are two competing possibilities for these objects.
Using artificial intelligence to analyze images of galaxy shape and light, astronomers from University College London and the École Normale Supérieure in Paris have created a map of invisible matter in the universe .
“The first is that these are galaxies containing millions of ordinary population III stars. The other is that they are black stars. And believe it or not, a single dark star has enough light to rival an entire galaxy of stars.
Although dark matter has yet to be proven, scientists believe it is made of a new type of elementary particle, which includes the smallest known building blocks of the universe.
The team believes the new particles are massive, weakly interacting particles, which neither absorb nor emit light and do not interact strongly with other particles.
“When they collide, these particles annihilate, depositing heat in collapsing clouds of hydrogen and converting them into bright dark stars, UT researchers shared.
“Identifying supermassive dark stars would open up the possibility of learning more about dark matter based on their observed properties.”
The idea of dark matter, originally known as “missing matter”, was formulated in 1933, following the discovery that the mass of all stars in the Coma cluster of galaxies used about one percent of the mass needed to prevent galaxies from escaping from the cluster. gravitational attraction.
Decades later, in the 1970s, American astronomers Vera Rubin and Kent Ford discovered anomalies in the orbits of stars in galaxies, reports NBC News.
The discovery sparked a theory among the scientific community that the anomalies were caused by masses of invisible ‘dark matter’ located in and around galaxies.