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Dark matter and stars in the center of the Galaxy

Jul. 24, 2019

Most galaxies are home to a nuclear star cluster, a very dense cluster with a radius of a few parsecs composed by a rich diversity of stars. The nuclear star cluster of the Milky Way has long been a focus of attention for astronomers and astrophysicists alike, not only due to the large density of stars found there but also due to their proximity to the central supermassive black hole. However, luminosity contamination from massive young stars and obscurity due to interstellar gas have hindered our capability of observing the dimmer and older stellar population.

Fortunately, recent technological advances in near infra-red astronomy will allow future telescopes to resolve old main-sequence stars, opening a new window to the study of stellar astrophysics in a region where the dark matter density is expected to be orders of magnitude above what is found in our vicinity.

In a recently published article in the Astrophysical Journal, José Lopes and Ilídio Lopes studied the impact of dark matter particles in low-mass main-sequence stars of the Nuclear Star cluster. By helping carrying heat from nuclear burning regions to colder regions within the stellar plasma, dark matter particles can not only slow down the burning rate of hydrogen, extending the life-time of the star, but also suppress core convection during the main-sequence. These effects can leave a signature in the evolutionary path and properties of the low-mass main-sequence stellar population, and thus, if observed, can be a strong hint to the interaction nature of dark matter within stars.

Read more in “Asymmetric dark matter imprint on low-mass main-sequence stars in the Milky Way nuclear star cluster", I. Lopes, J. Lopes, Astrophysical Journal 879, 50 (2019).