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Dark matter near black holes sends gamma rays from galaxy’s core

A gamma-ray burst

Gamma rays can be released in huge bursts like this, or more gradually

HARALD RITSCH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

There’s a flood of gamma rays coming at us from the centre of the Milky Way, and dark matter smashing apart at the edge of black holes could be partially responsible.

Supermassive black holes are believed to sit in the centre of every galaxy, and their smaller brethren, intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs), are probably in the neighbourhood too.

The observed gamma ray excess from that region can’t be entirely accounted for by ordinary matter, so physicists turn to weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) – a leading contender for the particles that make up dark matter. But recent analyses of fluctuations in those gamma-ray signals indicate something else must be contributing, too. WIMPs annihilating when they meet other WIMPs can explain the overall shape of the gamma-ray emission we’ve detected, but bumps

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