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NASA: Black holes make perfect lab for dark matter

Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 01:36

NASA scientists believe the gravitational pull of black holes in the galaxy is causing dark matter to smash together at such high intensity that it's emitting gamma-ray light. Nathan Frandino reports.

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With black holes moving across the galaxy, scientists on Earth are tracking them deep into the unknown. At the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, research astrophysicist Jeremy Schnittman is using his black hole expertise to track another unknown: dark matter. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY SCHNITTMAN, RESEARCH ASTROPHYSICIST, GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, SAYING: "We know that dark matter makes up the vast majority of the matter in the universe, but we really don't know what it is." But with the help of a computer simulation created by Schnittman, he and others believe they've found high concentrations of dark matter orbitting around black holes. Schnittman says black holes have such high gravitational pull that they're causing what he believes to be dark matter particles to collide. That collision is believed to be producing gamma-ray light -- which carries about 100 times more energy than UV light. Schnittman says that emission creates the perfect lab for scientists to learn more about black holes and the elusive dark matter. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY SCHNITTMAN, RESEARCH ASTROPHYSICIST, GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, SAYING: "It's really a Holy Grail in physics. I hesitate to even say this, but every time we've discovered a new particle, it's a Nobel Prize. The dark matter particle will be no different. So even though it's a long shot, and this is just one of many ways of looking for it, of course the pay off is just tremendous." A payoff that has Schnittman and his black holes spinning in excitement.

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NASA: Black holes make perfect lab for dark matter

Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 01:36