Dark matter may solve 'radio filaments' mystery
From BBC News, June 30, 2011
Unexplained "filaments" of radio-wave emission close to our galaxy's centre may hold proof of the existence of dark matter, researchers have said.
Dark matter is believed to make up most of the mass of our Universe, but it has yet to be definitively spotted.
A report now suggests the filaments' emission arises from dark matter particles crashing into each other.
However, the work, posted to the Arxiv repository, requires extensive further experiments to support or refute it.
The filaments have been something of a mystery to astronomers since they were first discovered in the 1980s.
They are known to be regions of high magnetic fields, and they emit radio waves of high frequency - some of them with striking intensity.
"There's a long literature about these objects, and there have been some ideas as to what might generate their emission - but frankly no one really knows," said Dan Hooper, an astrophysicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in the US and co-author of the paper, which is still under review by academics.
One explanation for this emission would be what is called synchrotron radiation, which arises when charged particles are accelerated in a magnetic field. There are several ideas that could account for the emission which do not invoke dark matter - so called "astrophysical" mechanisms.