Dark matter could be destroying itself inside the bellies of exoplanets

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Livescience.com 30 April, 2021 - 06:03am 34 views

Who was Michael Collins?

Michael Collins (Irish: Mícheál Ó Coileáin; 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was an Irish revolutionary, soldier, and politician who was a leading figure in the early-20th-century Irish struggle for independence. ... He returned to Ireland in 1916 and fought in the Easter Rising. wikipedia.orgMichael Collins (Irish leader)

Researchers propose learning more about dark matter by looking for its effects inside exoplanets.

Physicists know dark matter exists because it tugs gravitationally on stars and galaxies. But, so far, the invisible material has foiled every attempt to better understand its properties.

Many theories of dark matter propose that it is made of individual particles and that these particles can sometimes hit one another as well as regular matter particles, Juri Smirnov, an astroparticle physicist at The Ohio State University, told Live Science. According to these models, two dark matter particles might also smash together and annihilate each other, generating heat, he added. 

If those assumptions are true, dark matter particles should occasionally crash into large objects such as exoplanets, causing the particles to lose energy and accumulate inside those worlds. There, they could annihilate each other and produce a measurable heat signal that's visible from far away, Smirnov said. 

Along with his colleague Rebecca Leane, a postdoctoral researcher at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, Smirnov has suggested using the space-based Webb telescope, which will scan the skies in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, to look for this characteristic heat signature. 

Determining that the heat is coming from dark matter annihilation and not some other process would be tricky, so Smirnov and Leane propose looking for exoplanets that have been flung away from their parent star and are quite old, meaning they will have cooled to very low temperatures. If such an object were glowing abnormally bright in the infrared, it could indicate the presence of dark matter. 

But an even more reliable method would be to search for large numbers of exoplanets throughout the Milky Way and make a map of their temperatures, Smirnov said. Dark matter is expected to pile up in the galactic center, so this map should show exoplanet temperatures rising slightly as you look closer to the Milky Way's core. 

No known astrophysical activity could account for such a signature. "If we see that, it has to be dark matter,” Smirnov said.

"It's a neat idea," Bruce Macintosh, an astronomer who studies exoplanets at Stanford University in California and was not involved in the work, told Live Science. Researchers have built enormous underground detectors on Earth to try capturing dark matter particles, but "there's a limit to how big a detector you can build as a human being," he added.

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Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins has died at 90

CBS Evening News 30 April, 2021 - 11:10am

What going to the moon taught Michael Collins about Earth

PBS NewsHour 30 April, 2021 - 11:10am

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Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins died Wednesday after battling cancer. In 1969, he stayed in lunar orbit alone for over 20 hours while fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made the first landing on the moon. Collins said he had no regrets, he was focused on making sure his crewmates could return home. Miles O'Brien spoke with Collins for the 50th anniversary of the historic flight.

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Michael Collins: Apollo 11 pilot and 'loneliest man ever' dies aged 90

New Scientist News 30 April, 2021 - 11:10am

Michael Collins, one of the three crew members of the first manned mission to the moon, has died at the age of 90.

Known as the “the loneliest man in history”, Collins was the pilot of the Apollo 11 mission, which in 1969 put humans on the moon for the first time. Although he never became a household name like his crew mates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Collins’ contribution to the mission was just as important.

As his colleagues Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the surface of the moon, Collins piloted the command module Columbia, spending close to 28 hours alone in orbit.

“Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins is experiencing during this 47 minutes of each lunar revolution,” said the mission log. Recalling the events in a 2019 NPR interview, Collins said of his time alone in space, “I don’t think loneliness really comes into the equation, except it seemed to in the minds of the press at the time.”

Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator, paid tribute to Collins in a statement saying: “Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins.”

Born in Rome in 1930, Collins graduated from the US Military Academy in 1952, going on to join the US Air Force and later becoming a test pilot, before being selected by NASA as part of Astronaut Group 3 in 1963. Prior to the Apollo 11 mission, Collins flew in space on the Gemini 10 mission in 1966, becoming the fourth man to walk in space.

Collins and his Apollo 11 crew mates didn’t fly in space again after the 1969 mission. After retiring from NASA, Collins worked in government and was the director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC from 1971-1978.

Later in life, Collins advocated for humans going to Mars. “Sometimes I think I flew to the wrong place,” he said in 2009.

“As celestial bodies go, the moon is not a particularly interesting place, but Mars is, and Mars is the closest thing to Earth’s sister that we’ve found so far.”

Aldrin, now 91, said on Twitter, “Dear Mike, Wherever you have been or will be, you will always have the Fire to Carry us deftly to new heights and to the future. We will miss you. May you Rest In Peace.”

In a recent message, sent via Twitter to commemorate Earth Day, Collins said, “I am certain, if everyone could see the Earth floating just outside their windows, every day would be #EarthDay.”

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