Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz | via EurekAlert | 2019 Mar 05
Could the effect of photon mass on the gaseous components in galaxies be as strong as that of dark matter?
The rotation of stars in galaxies such as our Milky Way is puzzling. The orbital speeds of stars should decrease with their distance from the center of the galaxy, but in fact stars in the middle and outer regions of galaxies have the same rotational speed. This may be due to the gravitational effect of matter that we can't see. But although researchers have been seeking it for decades, the existence of such 'dark matter' has yet to be definitively proven and we still don't know what it might be made of. With this in mind, the physicists Dmitri Ryutov, Dmitry Budker, and Victor Flambaum have suggested that the rotational dynamics of galaxies might be explained by other factors. They hypothesize that the mass of photons, which are particles of light, might be responsible.
Professor Dmitri Ryutov, who recently retired from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, USA, is an expert in plasma physics. He was awarded the American Physical Society's (APS) 2017 Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics for his achievements in the field. Physicists generally credit Ryutov with establishing the upper limit for the mass of the photon. As this mass, even if it is nonzero, is extremely small, it is usually ignored when analyzing atomic and nuclear processes. But even a vanishingly tiny mass of the photon could, according to the scientists' collaborative proposal, have an effect on large-scale astrophysical phenomena.
While visiting Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Ryutov, his host Professor Dmitry Budker of the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM), and Professor Victor Flambaum, Fellow of the Gutenberg Research College of Mainz University, decided to take a closer look at the idea. They were interested in how the infinitesimally small mass of the photon could have an effect on massive galaxies. The mechanism at the core of the physicists' assumption is a consequence of what is known as Maxwell-Proca equations. These would allow additional centripetal forces to be generated as a result of the electromagnetic stresses in a galaxy. ...
A Hypothetical Effect of the Maxwell–Proca Electromagnetic Stresses on Galaxy Rotation Curves ~ Dmitri D. Ryutov et al