CXC/MSFC: Chandra Data Tests "Theory of Everything"

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CXC/MSFC: Chandra Data Tests "Theory of Everything"

Post by bystander » Fri Mar 20, 2020 3:55 pm

Chandra Data Tests "Theory of Everything"
NASA | MSFC | SAO | Chandra X-ray Observatory | 2020 Mar 19
Credit: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Cambridge/C. Reynolds et al.
Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have made one of the first experimental tests of string theory, a set of models intended to tie together all known forces, particles, and interactions. As described in our latest press release, researchers used Chandra to look for signs of an as-yet undetected particle predicted by string theory. The lack of a detection in these Chandra observations helps rule out some versions of string theory.

The team looked for extraordinarily low-mass "axion-like" particles in the Perseus galaxy cluster, shown in a Chandra image in the main panel of this graphic (red, green and blue colors are low, medium and high X-ray energies respectively). Galaxy clusters, the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity, offer an excellent opportunity to search for these particles. In a galaxy cluster, X-ray photons from an embedded or a background source can travel through a large amount of hot gas permeated with magnetic field lines. Some of the X-ray photons may undergo conversion into axion-like particles, or the other way around, along this journey.

A simplified illustration shows this process, with shorter wavelength X-ray photons (in blue) converting into axion-like particles (yellow) and back to photons, as they travel across magnetic field lines (grey) in the cluster. Longer wavelength X-ray photons (red) are converting into axion-like particles, but not back into photons. Such conversions would cause a distortion in the X-ray spectrum (the amount of X-rays at different energies) of a bright or embedded source of X-rays. ...

Astrophysical Limits on Very Light Axion-like Particles
from Chandra Grating Spectroscopy of NGC 1275
~ Christopher S. Reynolds et al
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