Primordial Stars Frozen Indefinitely by Dark Matter

Article written: 24 Jun , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

It is thought that primordial or “Population III” stars were born in dense clouds of dark matter, 100 million years after the Big Bang. During the period between birth and dark matter depletion, these first stars were effectively but into a “deep freeze” where normal star development was prevented. After this period when all the dark matter fuel had been consumed, these stars were allowed to commence normal stellar evolution, dying out within a few hundred thousand years. But say if a Population III star was born in an exceptionally dense cloud of dark matter? How long could “normal stellar evolution” be frozen for? According to new research, dark matter could theoretically freeze the star indefinitely, over timescales longer than the age of the Universe…

This amazing theory comes from research carried out by Gianfranco Bertone and his team at the Paris Institute of Astrophysics in France. The thought that the first stars, born over 14 billion years ago, could possibly inhabit the Universe today is a very impressive idea. These primordial stars are thought to have been seeded inside dense clouds of dark matter, where gravity caused dark matter compression. As the matter became concentrated, non-baryonic particles may have begun annihilating, stopping natural hydrogen fusion (the mechanism commonly associated with star creation). “Normal” stellar evolution was therefore paused and the “dark star” phase began as dark matter annihilation heated the stellar cores.

It has long been the assumption that the “dark star” phase occurred for a short period of time in the early Universe where vast halos of dark matter may have dominated. Once the dark matter fuel ebbed away, primordial stars were left to self-destruct in a flurry of accelerated evolution. Now Bertone and his colleagues believe a few primordial specimens might be alive today, hidden inside particularly dense clouds of dark matter, in galactic centres, keeping some of the Universe’s first stars in a state of suspended animation.

There could be conditions in the early universe where stars form in big enough reservoirs of dark matter to last until the present day.” – Gianfranco Bertone.

One of the most exciting implications to come from this research is the fact that these ancient relics may be observed, what’s more, we may have already seen some. “A frozen star would appear much bigger and colder than a normal star with the same mass and chemical composition,” says Marco Taoso, co-investigator in the French group. If stars matching the characteristics of these frozen stellar bodies are (or already have been) found, the discovery would have huge consequences for the quantum search for supersymmetry, indicating dark matter was indeed made up of massive “superpartners” to ordinary matter.

If dark matter influenced stars a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, can it still influence stellar evolution today? Researchers believe this could be the case. Present-day stars evolving in regions of dark matter clouds may be influenced by non-baryonic particles. White dwarfs are formed after the death of Sun-like stars and it is believed that should the dwarf star encounter a cloud of dark matter, it could be resurrected as a dark matter burner, shining like 30 Suns.

It will be interesting to see if there have already been any observations of these primordial stars, possibly providing more indirect evidence of dark matter in our Universe.

Source: New Scientist

29 Responses

  1. Ravens_Cry says

    One extremely awesome thing would be that if the dark matter could be manipulated, gathered and movied, a long term civilisation, one with worries about heat death, could save stars for later for energy production when other sources run out. With enough dark matter it would be possible.

  2. Yael Dragwyla says

    James B, the orbital dynamics of galaxies point to the existence of *something* that accounts for actual galactic rotational speeds which visible matter alone can’t account for. Until other theories prove to work better than dark matter, I’ll go with dark matter — and dark energy — thank you very much.

    That said, this was a great article, Ian. Just one teensy-weensy little quibble: You said “The thought that the first stars, born over 14 billion years ago, could possibly inhabit the Universe today is a very impressive idea.” A very impressive idea, indeed, considering that the age of the universe has been estimated at 13.7 billion years or less (I’m not sure of the error-bar there, but surely it isn’t *that* large, is it?). Other than that, though, it’s an idea very much worth checking out, especially because it’s one we may be able to find support for by means of real astronomical observations. 🙂

  3. Nexus says

    I agree, that would be very cool. But I think there’s a good chance a civilization advanced enough to lug large amounts of dark matter around will have worked out a way of beating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics anyway. I hope so, anyway.

  4. The late Professor Paul Marmet wrote. – The Big Bang model suffers from crucial failures that are becoming increasingly serious with continuing progress in astronomical observations. These observations, however, are consistent with a universe that is unlimited in time and space. “Big Bang Cosmology Meets an Astronomical Death”.

    This great man’s research results appear to be completely overlooked where dark matter, etc., by the Establishment, is blindly kept in the dark.

  5. JamesB says

    What would be extremely awesome is if there were a snowball’s chance in hell that dark matter actually existed!!

    Get real, this is theoretical cosmology that’s built on other aspects of theoretical cosmology, there’s no truth here – just conjecture!!

    And so far there is nothing that supports the concept of dark matter actually existing any more than the ‘aether’ of the late 19th century that Einstein finally got science past in 1905, years after the failed Michelson-Morley experiment (which produced the only result that they never expected – a null result).

    It took physics and cosmology almost 2 decades to recover, they were so sold on the idea there was an ‘aether’ that they could not look beyond that till Einstein did in 1905.

    Now we see the same thing with dark matter and dark energy. In the late 19th century they made the mistake of not seeing the differences between kinetic waves and electromagnetic waves and invented ‘aether’ to bridge the gap of ignorance. At the end of the 20th century they go and repeat history and do the same blasted thing over again.

    Cosmology is stuck until another Einstein comes along and sets the record straight, but until then we just have to put up with this dark crap mythology. Hey they gotta at least LOOK like they deserve their tenure and grant money…

  6. JamesB says

    Yael –

    Problem is that we don’t know how much matter is out there, so how can we even attempt to ‘account’ for missing matter? Dark matter/energy will be the card that brings down cosmology’s current house of cards just as ‘aether’ did more than a century ago.

    A new cosmology will take the place of the current one and people will look back on the concepts of dark matter and dark energy and shake their heads knowingly and laugh at such naivety. May even in out lifetimes too, if we are lucky.

    And this stagnant pond called cosmology will get some fresh water and new fish and be something to be proud of again…

  7. Excalibur says

    JamesB –

    …so break the stagnation – enlighten us of your infinite wisdom…

    … or perhaps some day dark matter will be proven to exists, and we will “shake our heads knowingly and laugh at your naivety”

    That being said, i do however agree that dark-matter stars are quite far away into a theory that still dont have much experimental support, at best a few ‘indications’. Clearly there are new physics here to be found, be it dark matter or another theory

  8. Ignoramus says

    Constructing “houses of cards” indeed!

  9. Dude says

    I agree, Dark Matter and Dark Energy are a crutch. They can not be observed directly. I think the we are missing a huge piece to the galactic puzzle that has nothing to do with DM/DE.

  10. Al Hall says

    I would like to offer this as the first line of Ian’s article:

    “Assuming that the current theories of dark matter and dark energy exist as some scientists believe, …”

  11. Dave S says

    I have some doubts about Dark Matter and Dark Energy but I am certainly grateful to be alive during such a time as this. I have no hopes of ever really understanding all this amazing material but I can still admire the concepts from a distance. Just imagine what our grandkids will be talking about in 50 years.

  12. Steve says

    Sorry, but I side with Occam’s Razor. If you have to make up some extravagant bs to make your theory work, then it probably is not the right answer. (just happens to be my theory for religion too. No deity would need to kill)

  13. John Mendenhall says

    Consider the source of the article. NS goes on a trip like this about once a month. Speculation built on speculation is not science.

  14. Kendall says

    OK… So we’re pretty sure that dark matter exists because of the way galaxies move etc., but we have never seen it and no nothing about its properties other than that it has gravity and is non-interactive (or low-interactive). How do we go from knowing nothing specific about dark matter to asserting that it annihilates and stops stellar fusion? Sounds like we left science behind somewhere…

  15. Kendall says

    I meant to say that we *know* nothing about dark matter. …can’t type today…

  16. Dark Gnat says

    It’s an interesting idea, but I think dark matter may be something mundane.

    Remember that recent article about dust all over the universe? Apparently it is dimming the light that we should get from stars and galaxies. Could dust cause red shift? If it does, then what does that mean for the big-bang and cosmology?

    I believe that looking into this dust and its potential effects would be more fruitful that something we cannot observe.

  17. Al Hall says

    Perhaps dark matter doesn’t exist at all. Perhaps what is being ‘seen’ is merely the effects of gravity (gravitation) from a possible single source that we have yet to ‘observe’, recognize as cause, or comprehend. Something that could be millions of light years away from the observed affect. We still don’t know everything about gravity (not to be confused with magnetism).
    I’m not saying I believe the idea, but I will buy it just as much as the theory that is being thrown around now.
    Perhaps our entire universe is inside of a gigantic black hole (that’s why space is black) and the gravity from it is causing the effects.. Okay, okay… Getting too deep.. I could go on and on.. But I won’t.. 🙂
    p.s. I’m not saying I believe that “black hole” thing either… But who knows!?

  18. Uclock says

    I’m afraid I have to agree with James B on this one. Dark matter has been ‘made up’ to account for the almost fixed rotation of stars inside galaxies but if you take space and time to be made up of completely individual ‘bubbles’ of spacetime surrounding each and every particle of dust, gas and larger objects such as planets and stars, then galaxies would move in manner we observe without the need to invent dark matter. The gravity field of any object can also be mathematically modelled without using Newton’s universal gravitational constant if space and time is thought of in this way.

  19. Astrofiend says

    Well, the thing is, we will see won’t we? Everyone can lay their cards on the table, and we’ll see who’s correct and who’s been kidding themselves.

    The LHC comes online soon – what happens if it verifies the predictions of supersymmetry? All of a sudden, we have new particles that are implied by the theory to exist in large numbers in nature, and all of a sudden dark matter theory is looking damn sexy. If not, then we find out some other way what is out there.

    But let’s not forget people – this is the way science works. People not involved in science rabbit on about speculation this and conjecture that, but this is the very essence of the scientific modus operandi! Science above all is a creative endeavour – we would still be living in the middle ages if people didn’t start saying ‘hmmm, maybe this result means that such-and-such is the case – let’s try to find out’.

    Of course dark matter represents a huge hole in our understanding – nobody would claim otherwise.The term ‘dark matter’ is really a euphemism for an effect that we observe. At the moment, we have no (reasonable; quacks don’t count) physical theory that could remotely come close to explaining it. So we chose dark matter as a working hypothesis. We also have MOND as an alternative working hypothesis. The thing with a working hypothesis is, you assume it is true and then work through the implications. AKA – the scientific method. e.g. – the subject of this article.

    I think many of the people that have commented here are much more sure of themselves than the actual scientists involved in the research are. And this, by the looks of things, tends to be based on…what? Gut feeling and intuition, it seems.

    Anyway, like I said, science is relentless – we’ll soon find out who the players are and who are just along for the ride.

  20. Al Hall says

    I’m really (impatiently) looking forward to LHC data.

  21. zensunni says

    I’m right there with you, Astrofiend. I think the LHC will help to connect a few dots in the bigger picture. I’d also like to reference the article just below this one entitled “Huge camera set to observe dark energy”. This dark energy survey will begin in 2011 and will add even more dots to the picture.
    “Dark Energy is one of the biggest puzzles in the whole of Physics, going back to a concept proposed by Einstein 90 years ago. The DES observations will tell us if Einstein was right or if we need a major shift in our understanding of the universe.”
    Thank you Prof. Lahav

  22. Al Hall says

    zensunni –
    I could be wrong but I have a suspicion that we will soon have a “major shift in our understanding of the universe”. Einstein aside.. The LHC might even give us some clues..

  23. Steve says

    Since our solar system contains 98% of all it’s mass, then why should we think otherwise for our host galaxy. Our sun is huge but please, occams razor says that our galaxy center is 102% bigger!!! That’s fricking huge! Enough with this dark matter crap!

  24. Steve says

    sorry, I meant our sun contains 98% of our solar system mass. kinda makes fun of our puny Earth mass!

  25. Al Hall says

    ….and Jupiter contains almost all of the other 2%… that makes us even more insignificant… So where do we go from here?…..

  26. Nexus says

    “Small” and “insignificant” mean two different things. Just because something is big doesn’t necessarily mean it’s important. That would be like saying and elephant is more significant than a person because it is larger.

  27. Gary says

    This sounds like to much speculation on my part. Lets prove dark matter exists, before we start creating theories about other things based on its theoretical existence. Seems like to much like a house of cards…

  28. As I said earlier, Prof. Paul Marmet solved this problem. It’s here to read on the www. There are two sorts of hydrogen out there, atomic and molecular. One is easy to detect and quantify and the other isn’t, all because our technology wasn’t able to identify it. Dark matter, grey matter, the missing particle, whatever, the mystery helps the Big Bang Cause. Maybe finding and acknowledging the truth, doesn’t.

  29. JamesB says

    Dark matter and dark energy aren’t even a theories yet, they are still at the hypothesis stage of science!! And there are several of other hypotheses that explain the same phenomenon as well as DM/DE.

    It took a crackpot like Einstein to brush away the cobwebs after the ‘aether’ hypothesis failed and stalled cosmology for decades. I personally think it’ll be a crackpot who banishes the current crop of failed scientists.

    And it’s pretty much a given that they’ll cling to the orthodoxy like their lives depend on it (because at least their jobs do). Look how long it took Hawking to admit he was wrong about data escaping from a black-hole, even though he was PROVEN wrong a decade or more before!

    There’s hell to pay when you make a mistake in science, lost grants, lost jobs, lost tenure, lost prestige, lost face. Look at what the failure of the AGW hypothesis is doing to the climate science industry, it’s completely ruined the scientific method and the ability to do real science!! Is cosmology any different?

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