If real, dark fusion could help demystify this physics puzzle | Science News

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If real, dark fusion could help demystify this physics puzzle

The idea could reveal why galaxies have dark matter cores of even densities

9:00am, June 6, 2018
dark matter illustration

DARK CLOUDS  Galaxies and galaxy clusters are surrounded by dark matter (illustrated in blue over an image of the cluster Abell 2744; red indicates gas). Dark matter particles may undergo a process called dark fusion, one scientist suggests.

Fusion may have a dark side. A shadowy hypothetical process called “dark fusion” could be occurring throughout the cosmos, a new study suggests.

The standard type of fusion occurs when two atomic nuclei unite to form a new element, releasing energy in the process. “This is why the sun shines,” says physicist Sam McDermott of Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. A similar process — dark fusion — could occur with particles of dark matter, McDermott suggests in a paper published in the June 1 Physical Review Letters.

If the idea is correct, the proposed phenomenon may help physicists resolve a puzzle related to dark matter — a poorly understood substance believed to bulk up the mass of galaxies. Without dark matter, scientists can’t explain how galaxies’ stars move the way they do. But some of the quirks of how dark matter is distributed

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