Scientists have shown that the X-ray emission from a group of neutron stars known as the Magnificent Seven is so excessive that it could be coming from particles expected long ago.
And if results are confirmed, the discovery could help unveil some of the mysteries of the physical universe – including the mysterious nature of dark matter.
“Finding axons has been one of the major efforts in high-energy particle physics, both in theory and in experiments,” said astronomer Raymond Koo, from the University of Minnesota. “We think axons can exist, but we haven’t discovered them yet. You can think of axions on.” “They are ghost particles. They can be anywhere in the universe, but they do not interact with us strongly, so we do not have any observations from them yet.”
Axions are hypothetical particles of very low mass, first developed in the 1970s to solve the problem of strong atomic forces tracking something called the symmetry of charge parity, when most models say they don’t need to.
Several string theory models have predicted axons – a proposed solution to the tension between general relativity and quantum mechanics. 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.
One way to search for axons is to look for excess radiation. It is expected that the axons will decay into pairs of photons in the presence of a magnetic field – so if more electromagnetic radiation is detected than it should be in an area where this decay is expected, this could be a sign of the axions.
These neutron stars – the 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 hundreds of thousands of years of stellar death.
And it emits low-energy (soft) x-rays while it is doing so. And they all have strong magnetic fields, trillions of times stronger than Earth’s, strong enough to induce axons. And all of them are 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 preparer and physicist Benjamin Safdie, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – studied the Magnificent Seven using multiple telescopes, they identified the high energy (hard) X – an unexpected emission of neutron stars from this. Type.
However, in space, there are many processes that can produce radiation, so the team had to carefully study other potential sources of emissions.
And pulsars emit, for example, x-rays; But other types of radiation emitted by pulsars, such as radio waves, are not found in the Magnificent Seven.
Another possibility is that unresolved sources near neutron stars could produce the emission of solid x-rays. 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 not claiming that we have discovered an axon yet, but we are saying that the additional X-ray photons can be explained by axons. It is an exciting discovery of an increase in X-ray photons, an exciting possibility that really matches our interpretation of the axions,” Kuo said.
The next step will be to try to verify the result. And 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 capable of detection.
Magnetized white dwarf stars could be another place to look for axon emission.
The research has been published in a journal Physical Review Letters.