Signal from space – level 3

01-07-2014 07:00

Astronomers have detected a mysterious signal 240 million light years away from Earth.

The unidentified signal is a spike of intensity at a very specific wavelength of X-ray light, but scientists don’t yet know what the origin is.

Picked up in the Perseus Cluster, one of the biggest objects in the universe, the discovery is said to be the best evidence of dark matter yet.

Astronomers believe dark matter constitutes 85 per cent of the matter in the universe, but doesn’t emit or absorb light like normal matter, such as protons or electrons. These are known to make up the familiar elements seen in planets, stars, and galaxies.

Researchers suggest the intensity coming from the Perseus Cluster could be a signature from the decay of a ’sterile neutrino,’ which are a hypothetical type of neutrino thought to interact with normal matter via gravity.

But, while holding exciting potential, the results must be confirmed with additional data to rule out other explanations and to see whether it’s plausible that dark matter has been observed.

Difficult words: spike (sudden large increase), wavelength (wave of matter such as light or sound or liquid), constitute (make up), signature (remains), plausible (reasonable).


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