Composite image of M87 in Chandra X-ray (blue) and Very Large Mass Radiation (red-orange). Scientists used x-rays to limit the properties of axions
The axion is a hypothetical elementary particle, which has been postulated to explain why some subatomic reactions violate the main symmetry constraints. This also applies to symmetry in time.
In 1980, the Nobel Prize in Physics was dedicated to the discovery of asymmetric time reactions. Over the next decades, scientists studying galactic movements and the nature of microwave radiation, realized that most of the universal matter can not be discerned.
Mysterious substance called dark matter. Modern analysis shows that its number reaches 84% in space. This component is dark, not only because it does not emit light, but it does not consist of atoms or ordinary elements, like electrons and protons. As one of the options proposed axions. But their existence remained doubtful. The researchers decided to use the new method of studying the nature of axions. If they exist, then quantum mechanics should set a limit on contact with light in the presence of a magnetic field. When they propagate along a strong field, the axions and photons must transmute from one to the other in an oscillating manner. The strength of any possible effect depends in part on the photon energy. Therefore, scientists used the Chandra X-ray Observatory to track bright X-rays from galaxies.
They carefully looked at the rays from the nucleus of the galaxy M87, which has powerful magnetic fields. In addition, M87 lives in a cluster of Virgo, whose scales make it much easier to interpret observations.
The review did not reveal signatures of axions. But it helped establish a new limit on the strength of the connection between axions and photons, which will affect future experiments. The researchers stressed the importance of using X-ray astronomy in this matter.