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The first stars in the Universe would have been born from dark matter

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The first stars did not feed on nuclear fusion, but on the annihilation of dark matter in their cores: called “dark stars” by researchers, these primary protostars would have arisen thanks to the collision between dark matter particles in the Universe primitive.

In a new study recently published on arXiv, a group of astronomers suggests that the first stars were created from self-interaction between dark matter present in the early days of the cosmos, and not through nuclear fusion processes. If this theory is confirmed, the so-called “dark stars” would make it possible to verify that dark matter would have played a more active role in the early Universe than it does today.

nuclear fusion and dark matter

The enormous luminous energy of stars comes from processes of nuclear fusion in the nuclei that compose them, according to scientists. These nuclear reactions that take place in stars are responsible for the production of vital chemical elements in the Universe, which began to be produced from its origins during the Big Bang, such as hydrogen, helium or lithium.

At the same time, although it is believed that the Dark matter makes up approximately 95% of the matter in the cosmos and which is not dark energy, baryonic matter or neutrinos, for the time being it is assigned a passive role: its activity would be limited to generating enormous forces of gravitational attraction that affect all known physical and cosmological processes, but without playing a dynamic role or “trying” too hard.

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Now, according to an article published in Universe Today, the new research seems to contradict both scenarios: phenomena other than nuclear fusion would have been involved in the formation of the first stars and dark matter would not be so passive. In the first moments of the cosmos, it would have interacted internally to generate events of enormous energy flow.

a different universe

To understand this hypothesis, we first have to place ourselves in the right scenario, which is very different from the one we currently observe from our place in the Universe. The extremely primitive cosmos, that is when it was only a couple of hundred million years old, it was much denser: all its material was compressed into a much smaller volume, waiting for the opportunity to unfold and emerge. Also, it was much darker because the stars and galaxies that contribute light had not yet formed.

At that time, the Universe was composed solely of dark matter, neutral hydrogen, and helium. As the eons passed, in an astronomical rhythm that is very different from the times we manage on Earth, all that material began to gravitationally collapseforming larger and larger structures.

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Currently accepted theories indicate that the first protostars they were born as structures about one-thousandth the size of the Sun. These stars steadily grew into giants, a hundred times larger than our star, driven by the nuclear fusion that took place in their cores.

A more dynamic dark matter

But the hypothesis of “dark stars” shows that the story could have been different: in that primitive Universe, the dark matter particles would have interacted to generate energetic reactions linked to their own annihilation. These reactions would have given rise to the first stars, which would not have been fed by nuclear processes, but by the annihilation of dark matter.

The researchers maintain that these first “dark stars” do not currently exist in the Universe because the density of dark matter is too low, leading us to not be able to see them in the surroundings of the galaxy. However, scientists believe that the james webb space telescopespecifically designed to study the early cosmos and the formation of the first stars, could potentially observe these mysterious dark stars directly.

Reference

Dark Stars Powered by Self-Interacting Dark Matter. Youjia Wu, Sebastian Baum, Katherine Freese, Luca Visinelli, and Hai-Bo Yu. ArXiv (2022). DOI:https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2205.10904

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