Dark matter is a mysterious substance composing most of the material universe, now widely thought to be some form of massive exotic particle. An intriguing alternative view is that dark matter is made of black holes formed during the first second of our universe’s existence, known as primordial black holes. A new study suggests that this interpretation aligns with our knowledge of cosmic infrared and X-ray background glows and may explain the unexpectedly high masses of merging black holes detected last year.

These primordial black holes, if they exist, could be similar to the merging black holes detected by the LIGO team in 2014. This computer simulation here shows in slow motion what this merger would have looked like up close. The ring around the black holes, called an Einstein ring, arises from all the stars in a small region directly behind the holes whose light is distorted by gravitational lensing. The gravitational waves detected by LIGO are not shown in this video, although their effects can be seen in the Einstein ring. Gravitational waves traveling out behind the black holes disturb stellar images comprising the Einstein ring, causing them to slosh around in the ring even long after the merger is complete. Gravitational waves traveling in other directions cause weaker, shorter-lived sloshing everywhere outside the Einstein ring. If played back in real time, the movie would last about a third of a second.

Credits: SXS Lensing

#nasa #space #astronomy #astrophysics #blackhole #science

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