Direct Detection of Galactic Halo Dark Matter

B. R. Oppenheimer, N. C. Hambly, A. P. Digby, S. T. Hodgkin, D. Saumon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Milky Way galaxy contains a large, spherical component which is believed to harbor a substantial amount of unseen matter. Recent observations indirectly suggest that as much as half of this ``dark matter'' may be in the form of old, very cool white dwarfs, the remnants of an ancient population of stars as old as the galaxy itself. We conducted a survey to find faint, cool white dwarfs with large space velocities, indicative of their membership in the galaxy's spherical halo component. The survey reveals a substantial, directly observed population of old white dwarfs, too faint to be seen in previous surveys. This newly discovered population accounts for at least 2 percent of the halo dark matter. It provides a natural explanation for the indirect observations, and represents a direct detection of galactic halo dark matter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-702
JournalScience
Volume292
Issue number5517
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2001

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