Traces of a mysterious particle predicted decades ago may have been discovered

Evidence for a long-wanted hypothetical particle may have been hidden in normal view (X-rays) all this time.

Scientists have shown that the X-ray emission emitted by a group of neutron stars known as the Magnificent Seven is so excessive that it could be coming from axons, a kind of long-predicted particle formed in the dense cores of these dead bodies.

If their findings are confirmed, the discovery may help unveil some of the mysteries of the physical universe – including the mysterious nature. Dark matter That brings it all together.

“Finding the axes has been a major effort in high-energy particle physics, both in theory and in experiments.” Astronomer Raymond said From the University of Minnesota.

“We think axons can exist, but we haven’t discovered them yet. You can think of axons as ghost particles. They can be anywhere in the universe, but they don’t interact with us strongly, so we don’t have any observations from them yet.”

Axons are hypothetical particles of very low mass, first developed in the 1970s to solve the question of why strong atomic forces follow something called Symmetry of parity of chargeWhen most models say they don’t need to.

Axons are predicted by several string theory models – a proposed solution to the tension between General Relativity Quantum mechanics – and the axes of a particular mass are also a strong candidate dark matter. So scientists have a number of really good reasons to look for it.

If they were present, it would be expected that axons would be produced inside stars. These stellar axons are not the same as dark matter axons, but their presence implies the presence of other types of axons.

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One way to look for axons is to look for excess radiation. Axions are expected to decay into pairs of photons in the presence of a magnetic field – so if more electromagnetic radiation than it should be detected in an area where this decay is expected, this could constitute a clue to the axons.

In this case, the extra X-ray is exactly what astronomers found when looking at the Magnificent Seven.

These neutron stars – collapsing cores of dead massive stars that died in a supernova – do not clump together, but do share a number of features. They are all isolated neutron stars at nearly middle age, after a few hundred thousand years of stellar death.

They are all cool, emitting low-energy (soft) x-rays as they do so. They all have strong magnetic fields, trillions of times stronger than Earth’s, strong enough to trigger the decay of axons. And they’re all relatively close, 1,500 light years away from Earth.

This makes it an excellent laboratory for researching axons, and when a team of researchers – led by senior author and physicist Benjamin Safdie of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – studied the Magnificent Seven using multiple telescopes, they identified high-energy (hard) X – the unexpected emission of neutron stars of this type. .

In space, there are many processes that can produce radiation, so the team had to carefully study other potential sources of emissions. PulsarsIt, for example, emits harsh x-rays; But other types of radiation emitted by pulsars, such as radio waves, are not found in the Magnificent Seven.

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Another possibility is that unresolved sources near neutron stars can produce a solid X-ray emission. But the data sets the team used, from two different X-ray observatories – XMM-Newton and Chandra – indicated the emission was coming from neutron stars. The team also found that it is unlikely that the signal was the result of an accumulation of X-ray emissions.

“We are very confident of the existence of this surplus, and we are very confident that there is something new between this increase.” Safadi said. “If we were 100% sure that what we see is a new particle, that would be huge. That would be a revolution in physics.”

This does not mean that the excess is a new particle. It could be an astrophysical process that was previously unknown. Or it could be something as simple as an artifact from telescopes or data processing.

“We are not claiming that we have discovered an axon yet, but we are saying that the additional X-ray photons can be explained by the axons,” The participant said. “It’s an exciting discovery of an increase in x-ray photons, an exciting possibility that really matches our interpretation of the axions.”

The next step will be to try to verify the result. If the excess is produced by the axons, most of the radiation should be emitted at energies higher than the energies of XMM-Newton and Chandra which are able to detect. The team hopes to use a newer telescope, NASA’s Nostar, to observe the remarkable seven over a wider range of wavelengths.

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Magnetized white dwarf stars could be another place to look for axon emissions. Like the Magnificent Seven, these objects possess strong magnetic fields and are not expected to produce a harsh X-ray emission.

“This starts to be so convincing that this is something beyond Standard form If we see an excess in the x-rays there too ” Safadi said.

The research has been published in Physical review letters.

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