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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dark Matter - The Unspottable Spotted?

Inside Science - November 8, 2012 by Mike Lucibella

Credit: NASA
An apparent signal from the middle of our galaxy could be the evidence physicists have long been seeking for dark matter, the mysterious substance thought to represent the missing mass in the universe.

However, at the just-concluded International Fermi Symposium in Monterey, Calif., researchers were also unable to completely rule out the possibility that a problem with their telescope is the cause of the unexpected energy signature.

Roughly 80 percent of the matter in the universe is invisible, and for decades scientists have been searching for an explanation. In April scientists first saw what could be the holy grail of astrophysics, an apparent signal from particles of this dark matter.

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Physicists examining data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope found an unexpected spike in very high-energy particles of light, known as gamma-ray photons, coming from the galaxy's center. Multiple independent teams have since analyzed the data and offered different explanations, but no one has yet been able to definitively say if what they're seeing is a dark matter signal, or some error in the telescope.

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