Dark matter remains one of the most mysterious elements of the universe, because it’s completely invisible to us. It neither emits nor absorbs light, so we can’t observe it directly. A team of researchers believe that they’ve come across important data that could change that, though: data that could lead to equipment being built especially to observe dark matter. While studying the X-ray data collected by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft, the team came across a spike they couldn’t identify.
Astronomers may finally have detected a signal of dark matter, the mysterious and elusive stuff thought to make up most of the material universe. While poring over data collected by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft, a team of researchers spotted an odd spike in X-ray emissions coming from two different celestial objects — the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster. The signal corresponds to no known particle or atom and thus may have been produced by dark matter, researchers said. “The signal’s distribution within the galaxy corresponds exactly to what we were expecting with dark matter — that is, concentrated and intense in the center of objects and weaker and diffuse on the edges,” study co-author Oleg Ruchayskiy, of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, said in a statement. “With the goal of verifying our findings, we then looked at data from our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and made the same observations,” added lead author Alexey Boyarsky, of EPFL and Leiden University in the Netherlands.