Dying stars entirely made of elusive dark matter may erupt as 'invisible supernovae'

This hypothetical event has been dubbed "bosenova," which is an end stage of a kind of star known as a boson star.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Representational image
This image from the Hubble Space Telescope indicates that a huge ring of dark matter likely exists surrounding the center of a galaxy.


Astrophysicists from the University of Delaware have proposed that "invisible supernova" events could occur across the cosmos. 

This hypothetical event has been dubbed "bosenova," an end stage of a kind of star known as a boson star. Unlike a supernova, the volatile explosion of such stars would not be visible. This is due to the fact that these hypothetical stars are made entirely of dark matter.

The invisible dark matter accounts for around 80 percent of the total mass of every galaxy. Dark matter is made up of enigmatic particles that are still a mystery to modern physics. Some theories suggest that dark matter could be formed of bosons, particles similar to photons and gluons. 

However, it is difficult to determine what sort of particles it is formed of. Scientists look for the gravitational pull of dark matter on regular matter to detect its presence.

Ultralight dark matter stars  

According to the study paper posted on the pre-print server, the "accumulation of ultralight dark matter (ULDM)" may result in the production of boson stars. 

As boson stars aged, they gradually gained mass by devouring dark matter or swallowing other boson stars. 

As per Live Science, the compact star would eventually pack so much mass within it that the energy of the dark matter could no longer resist the force of gravity, causing the boson star to collapse.

The boson star would gradually approach this point of excessive mass buildup. When so much matter is squeezed together, they will begin to collide with one another, releasing high bursts of energy in the process. 

​​In the same way as a regular star goes supernova, it emits light particles in the process. 

But how would scientists be able to detect these? Advanced detectors may be able to ultralight dark matter in the future. 

“Many experiments around the globe are already searching for lightweight dark matter. A bosenova would appear to these detectors as a surge of dark matter coming from a specific direction in the sky, just like a traditional supernova appears as a surge of light,” mentioned the report. 

The results have been uploaded to the pre-print server

Study abstract:

In a broad class of theories, the accumulation of ultralight dark matter (ULDM) with particles of mass 10−22 eV<mϕ<1 eV leads the to formation of long-lived bound states known as boson stars. When the ULDM exhibits self-interactions, prodigious bursts of energy carried by relativistic bosons are released from collapsing boson stars in bosenova explosions. We extensively explore the potential reach of terrestrial and space-based experiments for detecting transient signatures of emitted relativistic bursts of scalar particles, including ULDM coupled to photons, electrons, and gluons, capturing a wide range of motivated theories. For the scenario of relaxion ULDM, we demonstrate that upcoming experiments and technology such as nuclear clocks as well as space-based interferometers will be able to sensitively probe orders of magnitude in the ULDM coupling-mass parameter space, challenging to study otherwise, by detecting signatures of transient bosenova events. Our analysis can be readily extended to different relativistic scalar particle emission scenarios.

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