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ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2009) — A team of researchers working with data from ESA’s Integral gamma-ray observatory has disproved theories that some form of dark matter explains mysterious radiation in the Milky
That this radiation exists has been known since the 1970s, and several theories have been proposed to explain it. Integral’s unprecedented spectral and spatial resolution showed that it strongly peaks towards the centre of the Galaxy, with an asymmetry along the Galactic disc.
Several researchers have invoked a variety of dark matter to explain Integral’s observations. Dark matter is thought to exist throughout the Universe – undetectable matter that differs from the normal material that makes up stars, planets and us. It is also believed to be present within and around the Milky Way, in the form of a halo.
The recent study has found that the ‘positrons’ fuelling the radiation are not produced from dark matter but from an entirely different, and much less mysterious, source: massive stars explode and leave behind radioactive elements that decay into lighter particles, including positrons, the antimatter counterparts of electrons.