Readers!
 

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:
 


 

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


 

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


New analysis suggests photon could make dark matter unnecessary

The uncertainty of science: A new analysis by physicists that assumes a very very low mass for the photon, the particle that transmits light, could very well explain the motions of stars in galaxies and make dark matter unnecessary.

Professor Dmitri Ryutov, who recently retired from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, USA, is an expert in plasma physics. He was awarded the American Physical Society’s (APS) 2017 Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics for his achievements in the field. Physicists generally credit Ryutov with establishing the upper limit for the mass of the photon. As this mass, even if it is nonzero, is extremely small, it is usually ignored when analyzing atomic and nuclear processes. But even a vanishingly tiny mass of the photon could, according to the scientists’ collaborative proposal, have an effect on large-scale astrophysical phenomena.

While visiting Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Ryutov, his host Professor Dmitry Budker of the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM), and Professor Victor Flambaum, Fellow of the Gutenberg Research College of Mainz University, decided to take a closer look at the idea. They were interested in how the infinitesimally small mass of the photon could have an effect on massive galaxies. The mechanism at the core of the physicists’ assumption is a consequence of what is known as Maxwell-Proca equations. These would allow additional centripetal forces to be generated as a result of the electromagnetic stresses in a galaxy.

Are the effects as strong as those exerted by dark matter?

“The hypothetical effect we are investigating is not the result of increased gravity,” explained Dmitry Budker. This effect may occur concurrently with the assumed influence of dark matter. It may even – under certain circumstances – completely eliminate the need to evoke dark matter as a factor when it comes to explaining rotation curves. Rotation curves express the relationship between the orbital speeds of stars in a galaxy and their radial distance from the galaxy’s center. “By assuming a certain photon mass, much smaller than the current upper limit, we can show that this mass would be sufficient to generate additional forces in a galaxy and that these forces would be roughly large enough to explain the rotation curves,” said Budker. “This conclusion is extremely exciting.” [emphasis mine]

They readily admit that this first analysis is very preliminary, and causes some additional theoretical problems that conflict with known data. Nonetheless, this simple idea could eliminate the need for the additional dark matter particle that physicists have had trouble explaining or even finding.

In fact, I am somewhat baffled why physicists had not proposed this decades ago. It provides a much more straightforward explanation for the higher rotational curves in the outer parts of galaxies, and does not require any new physics.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

11 comments

  • John

    Neat idea. I’ve always wondered how photons can have momentum if they have no mass. But if they do have mass, how can they travel at the speed of light in a vacuum. Never mind, terrible idea.

  • Edward

    Who would have guessed that dark matter could possibly be so bright?

  • eddie willers

    Pshaw! It’s the presence of phlogiston in the æther.

    And Climate Change.

  • wayne

    Great stuff by all!

  • wayne

    “What is the Mass of a Photon?”
    http://www.math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/ParticleAndNuclear/photon_mass.html

    “An upper limit to the photon mass can be inferred through satellite measurements of planetary magnetic fields. The Charge Composition Explorer spacecraft was used to derive an upper limit of 6 × 10−16 eV with high certainty. This was slightly improved in 1998 by Roderic Lakes in a laboratory experiment that looked for anomalous forces on a Cavendish balance. The new limit is 7 × 10−17 eV. Studies of galactic magnetic fields suggest a much better limit of less than 3 × 10−27 eV, but there is some doubt about the validity of this method.”

  • Max

    I laughed out loud when I read this, I thought it was a joke. Actually, it is a joke. My coworkers and I often talk about mountains of earth slipping down during the night so we set up lights to watch the hillside telling each other that we’re holding up the mountain with photon energy…
    Now they expect us to believe the smallest particle of an electromagnetic wave is holding the galaxy together? Would not the electron have more influence in its concentrated form as part of an atoms mass then its electro magnetic wavelength form flying between stars? If electrons have an influence on mass, then why doesn’t mass slow down and turn the electrons in a less coherent manner? All the stars we look at would be a blur if this was the case. They are not… So it is not! The only blurring we see is near an extremely strong magnetic source or gravitational source.
    The dog wags the tail but only when the tail is still connected to the dog.

    From the article;
    “The rotation of stars in galaxies such as our Milky Way is puzzling. The orbital speeds of stars should decrease with their distance from the center of the galaxy, but in fact stars in the middle and outer regions of galaxies have the same rotational speed. This may be due to the gravitational effect of matter that we can’t see. But although researchers have been seeking it for decades, the existence of such ‘dark matter’ has yet to be definitively proven and we still don’t know what it might be made of”

    Why must a galaxy orbit a central mass? The mechanics of the galaxy do not operate like a solar system. They are nothing alike. The assumption is wrong. Even a super massive black hole would only have influence of a few light years.
    The collective mass of billions of stars would overwhelm any central mass that exists thousands of light years away. Think of the galaxy as a cloud of gas in electromagnetic taurus. Then the clouds condensate in to planets and stars moving in the original pattern maintaining their velocity and direction keeping each other in check by a shared gravitational oscillation. The stars at the center move slower because the gravitational attraction is equal in all directions. The stars on the outer part of the galaxy on the other hand are moving faster against the combined attraction of all the stars in the galaxy. There is no mystery here. It’s like a conundrum of wondering how much you would weigh at the center of the earth? Why does the center of the earth turn nearly the same speed as the crust?

    John has it right, we know light has mass because if it didn’t “photosynthesis would be impossible”. this article would have you believe that the small amount of mass becomes infinite mass when it reaches the speed of light… Chaotic light causing ordered patterns in a predictable way.
    Hogwash.
    If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance… Baffle them with your bullsh*t

    You don’t need to fool all of the people all the time… Just the ones holding the grant money that will pave the way for decades of fake science. Who says in active imagination doesn’t pay well.

  • Edward

    Max wrote: “Now they expect us to believe the smallest particle of an electromagnetic wave is holding the galaxy together?

    In college, one of the physics professors, when describing the five forces (or four, depending upon unification), would describe gravity as “the weakest of all the forces; it is only responsible for holding the universe together.”

    Why must a galaxy orbit a central mass? The mechanics of the galaxy do not operate like a solar system.

    Models of the galaxy recognize that galaxies are distributed masses, which explains why galaxies are not entirely governed by the gravity of their central cores or the black holes that (may) exist in them. However, it seems that the outer stars still travel faster than they should according to our current knowledge of physics.

    For instance, for a spherical planet with uniform density, gravity is strongest at the surface, zero at the center, and changes linearly from the surface to the center. Although galaxies are not uniformly dense, could a similar model at least approximate what we see? With gravity strongest at the outside, then something orbiting there would travel fast, but with gravity weak near the center, what is the orbital period there? In articles like this one, I do not find analyses like that, just the generalization that the observations do not make sense to the physicists.

    What I do not know is how “dark matter” would be distributed throughout a galaxy in order for the stars to behave in the manner that we see. Divine intervention is not a valid explanation for astronomers and astrophysicists, because that is difficult to model, as the intervention could conceivably change with each galaxy so as to please the deity involved. Thus a new phenomenon, dark matter, is assumed in order to provide the explanation.

    Whether the mass of photons could be distributed in a way that helps explain observation is an interesting question that the article did not explore or ask but stated without much explanation. Since the scientists insist that there must be an order of magnitude more mass than we observe, I wonder whether photons can come close to providing that much mass in our galaxy.

  • Max

    I looked up our supermassive black hole and this is what a article said about how much mass is in our galaxy. Remember, this is just a best guess;

    “Using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, astronomers have determined the most accurate measurement of its mass: Our vast galaxy clocks in at 1.5 trillion solar masses.

    One solar mass is the mass of our sun, which is 2 times 10 to the 30th power kilograms.

    So where does all of that weight come from? Surprisingly, only a small percentage of this is due to the galaxy’s 200 billion stars and the 4 million-solar-mass supermassive black hole at the center. The rest of it is due to dark matter, that elusive substance that holds the universe together.

    Astronomers are still trying to find evidence of dark matter to see whether it’s a particle or something else. But they know that it’s present, even if it can’t be detected yet.

    And as far as galaxies go, ours is a heavy one compared with others, but it’s also appropriate considering how bright it is. Lighter galaxies weigh in at around a billion solar masses. The heaviest are 30 trillion solar masses.”

    To sum it up, the mass of the central black hole is 1 out of 375,000th of the Milky Way galaxies mass.
    Off the top of my head, I would compare it to all the planets in our solar system orbiting mercury. (although I know, mercury is too large)

    I talked with a friend about this, and he pointed out something I forgot. He remind me of a discussion of Star Trek’s photon torpedo… “A Light bomb” which on its face sounds silly. Until you remember the energy required to make such a bright light released all at once would be called an “electromagnetic bomb”
    A EMP which would scramble all systems. Used to disable, not kill. Light is just a side effect. Perhaps this is the true nature of this new theory. Electromagnetism is so much stronger than gravity. I just can’t imagine how it is applied. The mystical aether is starting to look more attractive. (Ha Ha)

  • wayne

    “Quantum Torpedo Explained”
    https://youtu.be/3PmYb2dazfM
    5:03

  • Max

    Edward said;
    “However, it seems that the outer stars still travel faster than they should according to our current knowledge of physics.”

    This is true of galaxies similar to our own but when you observe very faint galaxies (which move slowly) or irregular galaxies (that look more like clouds) have a different dynamic. The outer stars in the irregular galaxies travel very slow picking up speed as they pass through the center, then only slowing down when it comes to the Apex on the opposite side of the same galaxy. It would appear that these deities are rather dull with out much artistic imagination. No wonder galaxies collide, they’re either fighting or getting married… Edward you can be quite funny… I agree with you about dark matter, it’s theoretical existence explains nothing only brings up more problems. Increased gravity due to unseen (deity) matter would not cause all the stars in the galaxy to rotate at the same speed like a record on a turntable. Unless dark matter is actually gluing it… Gluons ?

    Since the majority of our universe exists outside our galaxy, does all this light coming from the far reaches have an impact?
    If the vast emptiness between galaxies hold only the brightness of the electrons passing through, would there be a measurable influence that could prove or disapprove an mass/electron effect?
    I won’t hold my breath for an answer… As I see it, a cosmic particle has far more measurable influence then electron radiance.
    Which brings up that we should be able to measure the theorys effect in earths shadow…

  • wayne

    “photon torpedo explained”
    https://youtu.be/4LOPGElgkn8
    (7:15)

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

 

However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.

 

Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *