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Deep in the searing core of the colossal star Betelgeuse, a hypothetical kind of dark matter dubbed axions might be brewing and spewing out into the universe — offering scientists the potential for a breakthrough discovery in the ongoing search for evidence of dark matter, according to recent findings presented on April 20 at the American Physical Society's April conference.

A recent analysis seeking signs of the tricky axions turned up empty, but has enabled physicists to place more precise limits on the hypothetical axions' properties.

Betelgeuse is a popular star that anyone can see as a bright red dot in the sky within the constellation Orion. It's also close — at 520 light-years from Earth, the giant star https://interestingengineering.com/a-supernova-explosion-triggered-a-mass-extinction-by-vaporizing-our-ozone-study-suggests">made headlines in 2020 when its strange dimming behavior led scientists to suspect it might explode in an unimaginably violent supernova.

 

While Betelgeuse is hot and large, it could also serve as a perfect candidate for scientists https://interestingengineering.com/qubits-technique-detect-dark-matter">to observe axions — particles of physical conjecture that physicists expect to be a millionth or a billionth the mass of an electron — and might comprise the mysterious dark matter, which vastly outweighs the ordinary matter in our universe — despite having an almost wholly-unknown nature.

Axions shouldn't interact often with luminous — or ordinary — matter. But some theories think photons (light particles) might convert back and forth into axions inside a strong magnetic field, according to Physicist Mengjiao Xiao of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, in a Live Science report. Stars have a thermonuclear core — which makes them a great place to find extremely high numbers and levels of photons and magnetism. Betelgeuse is 20 times our sun's mass, which might make it "what we call an axion factory," added Xiao.

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