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Debate grows over whether X-rays are a sign of dark matter

Failure to spot telltale glow from nearby dwarf galaxy sets back search for dark matter

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2:30pm, December 11, 2015
XMM-Newton space telescope

NOTHING TO SEE HERE  The European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton space telescope, illustrated here, didn’t find a possible signature of dark matter coming from the dwarf galaxy Draco.

The search for a suspected calling card of the universe’s most elusive matter has come up empty.

Multiple days of telescope time spent looking for a specific X-ray glow coming out of the nearby dwarf galaxy Draco failed to turn up any signal, two University of California, Santa Cruz astrophysicists report online December 7 at arXiv.org. Finding such a glow would have offered a compelling clue for the identity of dark matter, the invisible, inert stuff that makes up more than 80 percent of the universe’s matter. The study’s authors say that the absence of the X-rays in Draco, one of the most dark matter–dominated objects known, means that scientists had previously detected the X-ray emissions of interstellar atoms rather than dark matter.

Not everyone agrees with the study’s conclusion, including a different team of scientists who commissioned the lengthy Draco observations and are reviewing the

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