Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2014 March 10
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Gamma Rays from Galactic Centre Dark Matter?
Image Credit: T. Daylan et al., Fermi Space Telescope, NASA

Explanation: What is creating the gamma rays at the centre of our Galaxy? Excitement is building that one answer is elusive dark matter. Over the past few years the orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has been imaging our Galaxy's centre in gamma-rays. Repeated detailed analyses indicate that the region surrounding the Galactic centre seems too bright to be accounted by known gamma-ray sources. A raw image of the Galactic Centre region in gamma-rays is shown above on the left, while the image on the right has all known sources subtracted -- leaving an unexpected excess. An exciting hypothetical model that seems to fit the excess involves a type of dark matter known as WIMPs, which may be colliding with themselves to create the detected gamma-rays. This hypothesis is controversial, however, and debate and more detailed investigations are ongoing. Finding the nature of dark matter is one of the great quests of modern science, as previously this unusual type of cosmologically pervasive matter has shown itself only through gravitation.

Astrophysicists: Browse 750+ codes in the Astrophysics Source Code Library
Tomorrow's picture: dusty rose

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.