NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has detected what were believed to be fabled ‘dark stars’ that could solve one of the universe’s biggest mysteries.
A team of astronomers led by The University of Texas (UT) at Austin identified three potential ‘dark stars’ that formed about 320 million years after the Big Bang, making them the earliest stars ever seen by human eyes.
The image shows three fuzzy dots glowing in the blackness of space, but astronomers believe the tiny specs could lead to uncovering 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 JWST’s observations.
Although dark matter makes up about 85 percent of the universe, its nature has eluded scientists. The only evidence of its existence is the gravitational effect it seems to have on visible matter.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has detected three bright cosmic objects that could finally prove the existence of dark matter
However, if the recent findings are confirmed, dark stars could reveal the nature of the nonluminous material.
Dark stars have been things of fables in the scientific community since it was first proposed by the UT team in 2007.
In a new study published in PNAS, these researchers have proudly announced that their hunch may be correct.
The team believes dark stars were the only type that could have existed in the early universe, which would be made ‘almost entirely of hydrogen and helium from the Big Bang.’
But dark matter would heat the cosmic objects rather than nuclear fusion like modern stars.
‘They are very bright diffuse puffy objects and grow to be very massive. In fact, they can grow up to ten million solar masses with up to ten billion solar luminosities,’ 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 observations of JWST in December 2022 by the Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES).
Upon further analysis, the JADES team determined the three stars formed about 320 million to 400 million years after the Big Bang.
A team of astronomers led by The University of Texas (UT) at Austin identified three potential ‘dark stars’ that formed about 320 million years after the Big Bang that the elusive material could power
The three candidate dark stars (JADES-GS-z13-0, JADES-GS-z12-0, and JADES-GS-z11-0) were spotted in galaxies during observations of JWST in December 2022 by the Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES)
A recent study published last week suggests the Big Bang happened 26.7 billion years ago, but UT’s research is based on the previous evidence that it occurred 13.7 billion years ago.
Katherine Freese, an astrophysicist with UT, said in a statement: ‘When we look at the James Webb data, there are two competing possibilities for these objects.
‘One is that they are galaxies containing millions of ordinary, population-III stars. The other is that they are dark stars. And believe it or not, one dark star has enough light to compete with an entire galaxy of stars.’
While 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 Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, which neither absorb nor emit light and do not interact strongly with other particles.
‘When they collide, these particles annihilate themselves, depositing heat into collapsing clouds of hydrogen and converting them into brightly shining dark stars, UT researchers shared.
‘The identification of supermassive dark stars would open up the possibility of learning about the dark matter based on their observed properties.’
The idea of dark matter, known initially as ‘missing matter,’ was formulated in 1933, following the discovery that the mass of all stars in the Coma cluster of the galaxies used about one percent of the mass needed to keep galaxies from escaping the cluster’s gravitational pull.
Decades later, in the 1970s, American astronomers Vera Rubin and Kent Ford found 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.
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