Every cosmic matter is made up of different types of particles, the most common being protons, neutrons, and electrons, however, a team of theoretical physicists believe they have discovered the first evidence of long-assumed axon particles emanating from nearby neutron stars.
Researchers believe that the axons may be responsible for the high-energy X-ray emissions from a group of neutron stars, the smallest and densest stars known to exist, called the Magnificent Seven.
Axons have always been out of reach because they “interact weakly,” meaning that they rarely collide with other molecules and instead often pass through them. They are a major candidate for explaining dark matter.
Theories suggest that axons can exist naturally as dark matter or be created by colliding with other particles. Their discovery will answer many questions about dark matter, which are believed to make up a large percentage of the universe that we cannot actually see.
“You can think of axons as ghost particles. They can be anywhere in the universe, but they don’t interact very strongly with us, so we don’t have any observations about them yet,” explained co-author of the research Raymond Co.
The team believes that the axons are produced at the core of a neutron star as a result of colliding neutrons and protons. The mysterious particles are then released into the star’s strong magnetic field, where they are converted into photons – particles of light – that form the X-rays that have been detected by telescopes on Earth.
The researchers say this study does not conclusively prove the existence of axion, but it does provide compelling evidence for it.
The researchers hope to be able to confirm the particle’s discovery by scanning the Magnificent Seven with NASA’s NuSTAR telescope, which is more sensitive than the Chandra and XMM-Newton telescopes that have been used in the current research.