Three objects seen lurking in the darkness of the Cosmic Dawn may be powered by collisions between particles made not of normal stellar material, but of the enigmatic material known as dark matter. Using data from the James Webb Space Telescope, a team of theoretical astrophysicists has determined that three galaxies, named JADES-GS-z13-0, JADES-GS-z12-0, and JADES-GS-z11-0, are consistent with what we might expect if we were looking at colossal, one-power stars by heating dark matter instead of nuclear fusion.
According to Cosmin Ilie and Jillian Paulin of Colgate University and Katherine Freese of the University of Texas, Austin, this model could help us understand the nature of dark matter and explain where the abundance of supermassive black holes in the Universe comes from. There are many gaps in our knowledge of the Universe, and dim stars could close many of them.
First, there is dark matter. We don’t know what dark matter is, but we do know that there is much more to it than dark matter. normal business that makes up pretty much everything we can see, from galaxies and black holes to ants and cookies. We know this because we see its gravitational effects, as if there were just masses of, well, masses out there that we can’t otherwise see or detect. Another problem is that we never saw the first burning stars in the Universe. We have seen evidence of them, but not the stars themselves.
And then there are supermassive black holes, around which galaxies orbit. We don’t know how these objects, millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun, get so big.
Finally, since it began operating in July 2022, the JWST has identified a large number of massive galaxies in the early Universe. How these galaxies got so big in such a short time after the Big Bang is a puzzle. Dark stars provide an elegant solution. we know what normal stars are: giant balls of hydrogen and helium, mainly, with extremely hot and pressurized cores, where atoms collide in nuclear fusion that generates heat and light.
According to Ilie and his colleagues, dark matter stars would be powered by the annihilation of dark matter. One theory of dark matter is that it is self-annihilation; when two dark matter particles collide, they extinguish each other in mutual destruction and an explosion of heat and light.
There would have been much more dark matter in the early Universe under this model. It could have created bubbles in the million-sun mass range, nullifying itself in a furnace of heat that radiates with the brilliance of a billion suns and the brilliance of a billion suns. JADES-GS-z13-0, JADES-GS-z12-0, and JADES-GS-z11-0, seen in the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang, fit the expected characteristics of such objects.
Over time, these stars would collapse into supermassive black holes, which would explain why we no longer see them and why we see so many supermassive black holes.
And they would also explain why the first generation stars are not out there, even though stars almost as old as the Universe itself can be found right here in our galaxy. If dark stars existed, first generation stars they are still close; they just look so different.