Dark Stars found by James Webb Space Telescope? Clues to dark matter?

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has detected three luminous objects that could potentially be "dark stars."

| Updated on: Jul 15 2023, 18:05 IST
AMAZING image of Earendel star captured by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope
1/5 http://tech.hindustantimes.com/tech/news/nasa-james-webb-space-telescope-captures-the-image-of-the-most-distant-star-in-the-universe-named-earendel-71659511630090.html (NASA)
2/5 The image was tweeted on August 2 by a group of astronomers who post images from the James Webb Space Telescope through the Cosmic Spring JWST Twitter account. The image was captioned, “We're excited to share the first JWST image of Earendel, the most distant star known in our universe, lensed and magnified by a massive galaxy cluster. It was observed Saturday by JWST program 2282”. (AP)
3/5 The Earendel star was discovered earlier this year by the old Hubble Space Telescope. Although it managed to capture the star, the image was not as clear as the one taken by James Webb Telescope. (NASA)
4/5 In comparison, its successor, James Webb Space Telescope captured the image which showed the faint red glow of the Earendel star and the starry trail on which it lies. The star is seen as a tiny red speck at the lower right side of the image. (NASA)
5/5 To capture these distant objects in detail, astronomers use Gravitational lensing. Celestial objects such as stars and galaxies bend light emitting from the objects behind them due to its gravitational fields. When this light from farther stars passes through these massive celestial objects, it acts like it is passing through the lens of a telescope and becomes magnified. This enables astronomers to capture them in extreme detail. (NASA)
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James Webb Telescope's groundbreaking discovery: Clues of 'dark stars' in early universe. (AP)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has detected three luminous objects that could potentially be "dark stars." These hypothetical objects are believed to be powered by the annihilation of dark matter particles and could surpass the size and brightness of our sun.

First Observations of Dark Stars

According to an official release, Katherine Freese, an astrophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin, expressed her excitement about the discovery, stating, "Discovering a new type of star is fascinating on its own, but if we find that dark matter is fueling these stars, it would be groundbreaking", according to an Interesting Engineering report.

Dark matter, an elusive substance that makes up around 25 percent of the universe, is challenging to observe due to its lack of interaction with light. The confirmation of these dark stars could provide valuable insights.

Identifying Dark Star Candidates

The JADES-GS-z13-0, JADES-GS-z12-0, and JADES-GS-z11-0 candidates for dark stars were discovered by the Webb telescope in December 2022. Originally classified as galaxies based on data analyzed by the JWST's Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES) team, spectroscopic observations conducted by Webb indicated that these objects formed approximately 320 to 400 million years after the Big Bang. This makes them the earliest known examples of this type of objects.

Freese added, "When we examine the James Webb data, we find two competing possibilities for these objects. They might either be dark stars or galaxies with millions of common population-III stars, according to one theory. Astonishingly, a single dark star could emit as much light as an entire galaxy of stars."

The Massive and Bright Dark Stars

These dark stars are believed to be exceptionally massive, with the potential to grow to several million times the mass of our sun and shine up to ten billion times brighter than our sun.

Scientists speculate that dark stars might be composed of a new type of elementary particle called Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). According to the study, these particles self-annihilate upon collision, releasing heat into collapsing hydrogen clouds and transforming them into intensely dark stars.

If the existence of these enigmatic dark stars is confirmed, it could shed light on the prevalence of massive galaxies in the early universe. Despite the previous discovery of numerous colossal galaxies in the early cosmos, the mechanism behind their accumulation of stellar matter and their excessive abundance contradicts the expectations of the standard cosmological model.

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First Published Date: 15 Jul, 18:04 IST
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