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The light from distant galaxies appears warped by strange waves of dark matter

By: April Carson

Recent research suggests that the axion, an ultralight dark matter particle, may be a better explanation for the ways light is distorted by galaxies than the previously favored weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). This new theory suggests that the dark matter responsible for warping light from distant galaxies is composed of axion-like particles.

Scientists believe in the existence of dark matter due to its gravitational effects, but attempts to detect it directly have been unsuccessful. Researchers, like Amruth Alfred and his team at the University of Hong Kong, examined the phenomenon of gravitational lensing to indirectly study dark matter. Gravitational lensing occurs when light from a faraway object is distorted by the gravitational field of a nearby galaxy, forming multiple images of the background object in an Einstein ring around the nearby galaxy. "What we find is that the best fit to the data comes from an ultralight axion-like particle, instead of WIMPs," said Alfred.

The research team concluded that the theory of axions was able to provide a better explanation for the warping of light than WIMPs. They found that dark matter made up of ultralight axion-like particles could generate an Einstein ring around galaxies more quickly and efficiently than dark matter composed of WIMPs.

It is anticipated that dark matter haloes envelop galaxies, and the characteristics of this dark matter can impact the stretching of light. Axions, with significantly less mass than WIMPs, are projected to exhibit distinct behavior. Unlike standard particles, axions are so lightweight that quantum effects should result in wave-like behavior.

Researchers speculate that if there are axions around the foreground galaxy involved in gravitational lensing, it could affect the appearance of the lensed background galaxies. This is similar to how the waves in a pool change when a stone is placed in it - the resulting oscillations are reflected in the position and brightness of the images. Razieh Emami from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics was part of the team that conducted these observations.

Overall, this research suggests that dark matter composed of axion-like particles may be a better explanation for the warping of light than WIMPs. As such, further experiments and surveys should be conducted in order to thoroughly explore this new theory.

Researchers discovered discrepancies in the patterns of gravitational lensing when comparing with WIMP models. However, upon substituting the WIMP models with axion models, those inconsistencies disappeared. They also tested the theories on a genuine lensing system and found that the axion model provided a better fit. All things considered, this study provides compelling evidence that the dark matter responsible for warping light from distant galaxies is composed of axion-like particles.

Alfred explains that investigating the nature of dark matter through the test of wave-like dark matter is one of the purest methods because dark matter only interacts via gravity, and maybe the weak force in some models. He believes that wave-like dark matter successfully withstands the scrutiny that it is put under.

Axions have finally received some good news after being overshadowed by WIMPs for decades as the leading candidates for dark matter. According to Emami, the observations made from gravitational lensing suggest that lighter particles are more likely than heavier ones to be the solution. This phenomenon remains unexplained by any other theories at the moment. "We will need more data to confirm the axion explanation," Emami adds.

Despite immense effort, the detection of WIMPs has not been successful. As a result, there is now a renewed interest in exploring other candidates like axions for dark matter that have not been extensively studied. According to Jae Sub Hong at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (not involved in the research), axions are one of the simplest extensions to the standard model of particle physics, and there is still much unexplored territory in their search for dark matter. This means that there may be relatively easy discoveries to be made in comparison to other candidates, such as WIMPs.

The research team is hopeful that further studies will confirm their findings and lend more credence to this new dark matter theory. With any luck, these findings could revolutionize dark matter science and bring us one step closer to understanding the universe’s greatest mystery - the origin of dark matter.

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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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