Dark matter could be destroying itself inside the bellies of exoplanets (X community)

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EXCERPT: . . . If those assumptions are true, dark matter particles should occasionally crash into large objects such as exoplanets, causing the particles to lose energy and accumulate inside those worlds. There, they could annihilate each other and produce a measurable heat signal that's visible from far away, Smirnov said.

Along with his colleague Rebecca Leane, a postdoctoral researcher at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, Smirnov has suggested using the space-based Webb telescope, which will scan the skies in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, to look for this characteristic heat signature.

Larger exoplanets would accumulate more dark matter, so the best candidates for such searches would be gas giants bigger than Jupiter, or brown dwarfs — enormous worlds that nearly became stars but failed to gather enough gas to ignite nuclear fusion in their cores, the researchers wrote in a paper published April 22 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Determining that the heat is coming from dark matter annihilation and not some other process would be tricky, so Smirnov and Leane propose looking for exoplanets that have been flung away from their parent star and are quite old, meaning they will have cooled to very low temperatures. If such an object were glowing abnormally bright in the infrared, it could indicate the presence of dark matter.

But an even more reliable method would be to search for large numbers of exoplanets throughout the Milky Way and make a map of their temperatures, Smirnov said. Dark matter is expected to pile up in the galactic center, so this map should show exoplanet temperatures rising slightly as you look closer to the Milky Way's core.

No known astrophysical activity could account for such a signature. "If we see that, it has to be dark matter,” Smirnov said... (MORE - details)

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