James Webb Telescope identified three objects and named as “dark stars”. What are they? And how are they different from ordinary stars? Let’s dig into the deep details and uncover valuable information.
Enigmatic Dark Stars- Exploring Celestial Bodies
Over the last 15 years, researchers have dedicated their efforts to uncovering proof of a unique type of celestial body that has long been theorized but remains unseen: a star that derives its energy not from atomic fusion like traditional stars, including our sun, but from an enigmatic entity called dark matter. The first good candidates for “dark stars” have been detected thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope’s ability to see back to the beginning of the cosmos.
The three objects found by Webb, which was launched in 2021 and began collecting data last year, were initially identified last December as some of the universe’s earliest-known galaxies but may instead be massive black stars, according to astronomers.
Now, you must be thinking about what these dark stars depict and what is the actual connection to the dark matter! If so, please continue reading!
Unveiling the Mysterious Connection to Invisible Dark Matter
Dark matter, an invisible substance whose presence is known primarily by its gravitational effects on a galactic scale, would be a minor but critical component of dark stars. These stars are claimed to be almost entirely made of hydrogen and helium, the two elements that existed in the early universe, with dark matter accounting for 0.1% of their mass. Their engine, however, would be self-annihilating dark matter.
We are unable to detect dark matter because it cannot emit or directly interact with light. However, it is estimated that it accounts for approximately 85% of all weight in the universe. The remaining 15% consists of ordinary matter, including familiar objects like stars, planets, gas, dust, and everyday items such as pizza and people found on Earth.
Aside from this, if you think that dark stars are DARK! Then we suppose you might be wrong. Let’s find out how!
Dark Stars are Giants with Big Masses and Brightness
Dark stars have the astounding potential to amass a mass surpassing the sun by at least a millionfold, while their luminosity could exceed a billion times, leaving a blazing trail of light in their wake. These colossal celestial bodies possess a diameter approximately ten times the vast expanse between Earth and the sun.
Katherine Freese, a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and senior author of the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said:
“They’re big puffy beasts,”
“They are made of atomic matter and powered by the little bit of dark matter that’s inside them,”
Unlike conventional stars, they would be able to grow mass by absorbing gas from space.
Colgate University astrophysicist and study lead author Cosmin Ilie said:
“They can continue to accrete the surrounding gas almost indefinitely, reaching supermassive status.”
Additionally, they also uncover crisp knowledge about ancient enigmas and valuable information on cosmic origins. In the next paragraph, we will see about it.
They are Ancient Enigmas Challenging Cosmic Origins
They would not have been as hot as the first generation of regular stars in the universe. The nuclear fusion that took place in the centers of those stars created elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.
The three hypothetical black stars are too young in the universe’s history, with one occurring 330 million years after the Big Bang event 13.8 billion years ago and the others occurring 370 million and 400 million years afterward.
Based on the Webb data, these objects could be either early galaxies or dark stars.
“One supermassive dark star is as bright as an entire galaxy so that it could be one or the other.”
Dark Stars & Cosmic Mysteries? HOW?
While there is not enough data to make a definitive judgment about these three, Freese said, Webb may be able to obtain fuller data on other similarly primordial objects that could provide “smoking gun” evidence of a dark star.
During the nascent stages of the universe, the prevailing circumstances might have been conducive to the emergence of enigmatic entities known as dark stars.
These celestial formations could have arisen due to the presence of substantial concentrations of dark matter near regions rich in hydrogen and helium, where star formation was taking place.
In 2008, Freese and two colleagues postulated the existence of dark stars, naming them after the 1960s Grateful Dead song “Dark Star.”
“It would be super exciting to find a new type of star with a new kind of heat source. It might lead to the first dark matter particles being detected. And then you can learn about the properties of dark matter particles by studying a variety of dark stars of different masses.”
In the next part of the blog, we will be answering some of the commonly asked questions about dark stars that will continue your thoughts.
What is a dark star called?
In astronomy, there are three different concepts referred to as “dark stars.” The first type, under Newtonian mechanics, is a star with an exceptionally powerful gravitational force, leading to the trapping of light according to Newton’s theory of gravity.
The second type involves dark matter, where a star is heated through the process of annihilation of dark matter particles that occur within its core. Lastly, a dark-energy star is an object primarily composed of dark energy and exhibits external similarities to a black hole in appearance. These distinct dark star phenomena present fascinating areas of study within the realm of astrophysics.
What is a dark star made of?
These stars are characterized by their composition, consisting mainly of hydrogen and helium, the two predominant elements during the early universe. Remarkably, they contain a mere 0.1% of their mass in the form of dark matter. However, what sets them apart is that their source of energy is attributed to the process of self-annihilating dark matter.
Is A black hole a dark star?
In the cosmic journey of stars exceeding three solar masses, an inevitable fate awaits them. After the cessation of thermonuclear reactions, they are destined to transform into what is known as a “dark star” or, more commonly, a “black hole.” This term, “black hole,” was coined by the physicist John Wheeler, who comprehensively described these enigmatic objects as entities where no known source of pressure can counterbalance their immense gravitational force.