Advertisements

Tag Archives: very early universe

Mini Black Holes as Dark Matter?

Ancient Voyager Satellite Says No for the Smallest Possible

Hawking Radiation

Black holes can come in all sizes from about a billion tons up to billions of solar masses.

Because isolated black holes are difficult to detect, especially smaller mass ones, they have long been considered as candidates for dark matter, invoked to explain the extra gravitational accelerations measured at the outskirts of galaxies.

Stephen Hawking showed that black holes radiate low energy particles very slowly due to quantum thermodynamic effects. So the very lowest mass black holes evaporate away due to Hawking radiation during the life of the universe.

Voyager Satellites

The Voyager satellites were launched in 1977 and NASA has determined that Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause in 2012. This is the boundary for the solar wind, which holds back a large portion of galactic cosmic rays. Voyager 2 crossed the heliopause last year.

Forty-two years after launch, and having toured Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, these remarkable satellites are still returning valuable data about the outer reaches of the Solar System.

What is the connection between black holes, dark matter, and Voyager 1?

In the early universe, large numbers of so-called primordial black holes (PBHs) of various sizes may have formed. The question arises, could these be the primary component of dark matter?

Primordial Black Holes as Dark Matter Candidates

The detection of gravitational waves from half a dozen mergers of black holes of intermediate mass has given new energy to this idea. Also, there is the continued failure to detect exotic particle candidates for dark matter in Earth-bound laboratory experiments.

A team of Japanese astronomers, searching for microlensing effects with stars in the Andromeda galaxy, have ruled out small black holes in the range of 10^{20} grams up to about 3 times the Earth’s mass. https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2017/12/07/primordial-black-holes-and-dark-matter has more detail.

Constraints from other lensing experiments (MACHO, EROS) and the cosmic microwave background appear to rule out more massive primordial black holes as the explanation for most dark matter.

What about the tiniest allowable black holes, from about 4 \cdot 10^{14} gm (smaller ones have evaporated already) up to 10^{20} gm?

Voyager 1 Constraints

With a recent analysis researchers at the Laboratoire de Physique Theorique et Hautes Energies (LPTHE) show that the Voyager 1 satellite now rules out primordial black holes with masses below 10^{17} gm as well, as the source of most dark matter. And it is because of the Hawking radiation that we do not detect.

Although Hawking radiation has never been detected, it is on very firm theoretical grounds that it should exist. Everything, including strange objects like black holes, has a quantum nature.

Smaller black holes radiate at higher temperatures and have shorter lifetimes. The Hawking radiation temperature is

T = 1.1  GeV / (m/10^{13} gm)

Thus for an m = 10^{16} gm black hole the Hawking temperature is about 1 MeV. (GeV or giga electron-Volt is a billion eV and around the rest mass energy of a proton, and an MeV or mega electron-Volt is a million eV and about twice the rest mass energy of an electron.)

Since these temperatures are in the MeV range, only very light particles such as neutrinos, electrons, and positrons would be emitted by the PBHs.

Figure 1 from the Boudaud and Cirelli paper shows the observed combined electron and positron cosmic ray flux from Voyager 1 in the energy range from 3 MeV to 50 MeV. It also shows results in the 1 to 10 GeV range from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 2 experiment on the International Space Station (located well inside the heliopause). Two different models of how the energetic particles propagate through the galaxy are used.

Smallest possible Black Holes ruled out

PBHs with 10^{15} or 10^{16} grams are clearly ruled out; they would inject far too many energetic electron and positron cosmic rays into the interstellar medium that Voyager 1 has entered.

The authors state that no more than 0.1% of dark matter can be due to PBHs of mass less than 10^{16} grams (10 billion tons).

In Figure 1, a monotonic mass distribution was assumed (PBHs all have the same mass). They also consider various log-normal mass distributions and similar constraints on the allowable PBH mass were found.

What about at 10^{17} grams and above? Most mass regions are ruled out.

The mass region above 5 \cdot 10^{17} grams and up to about 10^{20} grams has been excluded as a primary source of dark matter from PBHs by a 2012* result from Barnacka, Glicenstein, and Moderski. They searched for gravitational lensing effects upon gamma ray burst sources due to intervening black holes.

So vast ranges of possible PBH masses are ruled out. However the mass region from 3 \cdot 10^{16} up to 5 \cdot 10^{17} grams remains a possibility as a dark matter hideout for PBHs.

*The same year that Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause, coincidentally

References

Boudaud, M. And Cirelli, M. 2019 “Voyager 1 electrons and positrons further constrain primordial black holes as dark matter” https://arxiv.org/abs/1807.03075

https://darkmatterdarkenergy.com/2017/12/07/primordial-black-holes-and-dark-matter/

Barnacka, A., Glicenstein, J.-F., Moderski, R. 2012 “New constraints on primordial black holes abundance from femtolensing of gamma-ray bursts” http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.2056

Advertisements

Most Distant Galaxy Known: over 95% of the way back to the origin

Recently, a team of astronomers from the U.S., U.K. and The Netherlands have confirmed the most distant galaxy known. This galaxy had previously been estimated to have a redshift of z = 8.57, from photometric methods, that is, from the general shape of the spectrum.

EGSY8p7-a

Image: Hubble Space Telescope, NASA/STScI

More accurate redshifts are obtained by measuring particular emission or absorption lines, which have precisely known laboratory (z = 0) wavelengths.

The team measured Lyman alpha line emission, and have determined the redshift to be z = 8.68, in good agreement with the photometric redshift. The Lyman alpha line is a main transition line in neutral hydrogen that occurs at 1216 Angstroms (.1216 microns) in the rest frame. The authors observed the line in the infrared and centered at 11,776 Angstroms (1.1776 microns) on 2 separate observing nights, detecting the Lyman alpha line each night. The redshift is given by 1 + z = 11,776/1216 = 9.68, thus z for this galaxy is 8.68.

The galaxy image is thought to be somewhat magnified by intervening dark matter gravitational lensing, but less than a factor of 2, and perhaps only around 20%.

The significance here is in the detection of Lyman alpha at such a high redshift, corresponding to a time when the universe was only 600 million years old, less than 5% of its current age. Not only does this result determine the age of this earliest known galaxy, but it also provides insight into the nature of the intergalactic medium.

The cosmic microwave background radiation is the most distant source we can see. It comes from all directions, filling the universe and reflects a time when the universe was only 380,000 years old and transitioned from ionized plasma to neutral hydrogen and helium.

Later on in the universe’s evolution, as the first galaxies and stars form, hot blue stars produce ionizing ultraviolet radiation, and the neutral gas is reionized – electrons are stripped from their atoms. This process has generally thought to have completed by redshift ~ 6, at a time when the universe was around 1 billion years old.

Lyman alpha emission is not expected in a region which is still neutral, that has not yet undergone the reionization process. So the implication here is that the surrounding intergalactic medium in the neighborhood of EGSY8p7 has already been reionized at a significantly higher redshift.

The universe does not become reionized in a uniform way, rather the process would be expected to happen in “bubbles” or regions surrounding energetic galaxies with hot blue stellar populations. Eventually all the ionized regions overlap and the intergalactic medium becomes fully ionized.

This detection helps astronomers to better understand how reionization occurred.

The team’s paper is submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters and can be found here:

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1507.02679v2.pdf


Inflation

History of the Universe - WMAP

Graphic for History of the Universe (Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team)

The Big Bang theory found great success explaining the general features of the universe, including the approximate age, the expansion history after the first second, the relative atomic abundances from cosmic nucleosynthesis, and of course the cosmic microwave background radiation. And it required only general relativity, a smooth initial state, and some well-understood atomic and nuclear physics. It assumed matter, both seen and unseen, was dominating and slowing the expansion via gravity. In this model the universe could expand forever, or recollapse on itself, depending on whether the average density was less than or greater than a certain value determined only by the present value of the Hubble constant.

However, during the late 20th century there remained some limitations and concerns with the standard Big Bang. Why is today’s density so relatively close to this critical value for recollapse, since it would have had to be within 1 part in 1000 trillion of the critical density at the time of the microwave background to yield that state? How did galaxies form given only the tiny density fluctuations observed in the microwave background emitted at the age of 380,000 years for the universe? And why was the microwave background so uniform anyway? In the standard Big Bang model, regions only a few degrees away from each other would not be casually connected (no communication even with light between the regions would be possible).

There are four known fundamental forces of nature. These are electromagnetism and gravity and two types of nuclear forces, known as the strong force and the weak force. Physicists believe all the forces but gravity unify at energies around  10,000 trillion times the rest mass-energy (using E = mc^2) of the proton (1 Giga-electron-Volt). At some point very early in the life of the universe, at even higher energies equal to the Planck energy of 10 million trillion times the proton mass, all of the four forces would have been unified as a single force or interaction. Gravity would separate from the others first as the universe’s expansion began and the effective temperature dropped, and next the strong force would decouple.

We also must consider the vacuum field, that represents the non-zero energy of empty space. Even empty space is filled with virtual particles, and thus energy. At very early times the energy density of the vacuum would be expected to be very high. During the very earliest period of the development of the universe, it could have decayed to a lower energy state in conjunction with the decoupling of the strong force from the unified single force, and this would also have driven an enormous expansion of space and deposited a large amount of energy into the creation of matter.

In the inflationary Big Bang model postulated by Alan Guth and others, the decay of the vacuum field would release massive amounts of energy and drive an enormous inflation (hyperinflation really) during a very short period of time. The inflation might have started one trillionth of one trillionth of one trillionth of a second after the beginning. And it might have lasted until only the time of one billionth of one trillionth of one trillionth of a second. But it would have driven the size of the entire universe to grow from an extremely microscopic scale up to the macroscopic scale. At the end of the inflation, what was originally a tiny bubble of space-time would have grown to perhaps one meter in size. And at the end of the inflationary period, the universe would have been filled with radiation and matter in the form of a quark-gluon plasma. Quarks are the constituent particles of ordinary matter such as protons and neutrons and gluons carry the strong force.

The doubling time was extremely short, so during this one billionth of one trillionth of one trillionth of a second the universe doubled around 100 times. In each of the 3 spatial dimensions it grew by roughly one million times one trillion times one trillion in size! This is much greater than even Zimbabwe’s inflation and happens in a nearly infinitesimal time! The inflationary period drove the universe to be very flat topologically, which is observed. And it implies that the little corner of the universe we can observe, and think of as our own, is only one trillionth of one trillionth of the entire universe, or less. There is good observational support for the inflationary Big Bang model from the latest observations concerning the flatness of the universe, given that the mass-energy density is so close to the critical value, and also from the weight of the evidence concerning the growth of original density fluctuations to form stars and galaxies.