Monday, December 10, 2007

Dark star

It's not so strange that I get some of my science news via sf blogs, but I found it amusing that I now learned about some new theory work on dark matter (my own field) from Bowing to the Future. In this post Lou Anders makes the connection between dark stars and Cthulhu:

"...the nightmare corpse-city of R'lyeh ... was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults . . ." —H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"

Old ones or not, the idea presented in the article (well, the popular version of it -- I haven't read the real paper yet) is interesting. If the dark matter consists of particles that annihilate when they collide, as we often assume, this could mean that it prevented some of the early stars to light up. If the clumps of matter that were beginning to knot together to form stars contained lots of dark matter, the concentration of these particles would mean more dark matter annihilations, which would release energy and heat the ordinary matter. This would prevent normal stars to form, but instead there would be giant, diluted stars without fusion, glowing only in infrared, gamma rays, neutrinos and antimatter. If such dark stars still exist today we could in principle detect them.

Theoretical predictions always leave me with a somewhat impatient feeling. So how is it really? It's a lot of good thinking, but until we can test it we still don't know if it is a description of reality. I want observations! The idea will mature, there will be calculations and simulations, and some scenarios will perhaps turn out to be testable. Then someone will think of a way to build a detector or use an existing one to try to find something. This process can take decades, so I should not hold my breath...

(There is also an old sf film called Dark Star. I think I have seen it, but I have very vague memories of it.)

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