Thursday, April 02, 2009

Local Void vs Dark Energy

Local Void vs Dark Energy: Confrontation with WMAP and Type Ia Supernovae
It is now a known fact that if we happen to be living in the middle of a large underdense region, then we will observe an "apparent acceleration", even when any form of dark energy is absent. In this paper, we present a "Minimal Void" scenario, i.e. a "void" with minimal underdensity contrast (of about -0.4) and radius (~ 200-250 Mpc/h) that can, not only explain the supernovae data, but also be consistent with the 3-yr WMAP data. We also discuss consistency of our model with various other measurements such as Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, Baryon Acoustic Oscillations and local measurements of the Hubble parameter, and also point out possible observable signatures.

Antimatter Annihilation Anomalies

PAMELA and other experiments are searching for antimatter annihilation, as possible evidence for Dark Matter and other astrophysical phenomenon. These experiments have observed excess positron annihilation, but not antiprotons, which is inconsistent with many popular Dark Matter models. See also Dark Matter Annihilation and the PAMELA and ATIC Anomaly and Discriminate different scenarios to account for the PAMELA and ATIC data by synchrotron and IC radiation and Is the PAMELA anomaly caused by the supernova explosions near the Earth?
See also A hint of dark matter? in Nature.
Cosmic ray positrons are known to be produced in interactions in the interstellar medium. As well as originating from this 'secondary source', positrons might also be generated in primary sources such as pulsars and microquasars — or by dark matter annihilation. A new measurement of the positron fraction in the cosmic radiation for the energy range 1.5–100 GeV has been made using data from the PAMELA satellite experiment. Previous measurements, made predominantly by balloon-borne instruments, yield a positron fraction compatible with 'secondary source' production from interactions between cosmic ray nuclei and interstellar matter. Above 10 GeV the new measurements deviate significantly from this expectation, pointing to the presence of a primary source, either a nearby astrophysical object or dark matter particle annihilations.

The cosmic ray lepton puzzle in the light of cosmological N-body simulations
The PAMELA and ATIC collaborations have recently reported an excess in the cosmic ray positron and electron fluxes. These lepton anomalies might be related to cold dark matter (CDM) particles annihilating within a nearby dark matter clump. We outline regions of the parameter space for both the dark matter subhalo and particle model, where data from the different experiments are reproduced. We then confront this interpretation of the data with the results of the cosmological N-body simulation Via Lactea II. Having a sizable clump (Vmax = 9km/s) at a distance of only 1.2 kpc could explain the PAMELA excess, but such a configuration has a probability of only 0.37 percent. Reproducing also the ATIC bump would require a very large, nearby subhalo, which is extremely unlikely (p~3.10^-5). In either case, we predict Fermi will detect the gamma-ray emission from the subhalo. We conclude that under canonical assumptions, the cosmic ray lepton anomalies are unlikely to originate from a nearby CDM subhalo.

Radio Emissions from the Center of the Milky Way

Modeling Emission from the Supermassive Black Hole in the Galactic Center with GRMHD Simulations
Sagittarius A* is a compact radio source at the Galactic center, powered by accretion of fully ionized plasmas into a supermassive black hole. However, the radio emission cannot be produced through the thermal synchrotron process by a gravitationally bounded flow. General relativistic magneto-hydrodynamical(GRMHD) simulations of black hole accretion show that there are strong unbounded outflows along the accretion. With the flow structure around the black hole given by GRMHD simulations, we investigate whether thermal synchrotron emission from these outflows may account for the observed radio emission. We find that simulations producing relatively high values of plasma beta cannot produce the radio flux level without exceeding the X-ray upper limit set by Chandra observations through the bremsstrahlung process. The predicted radio spectrum is also harder than the observed spectrum both for the one temperature thermal model and a simple nonthermal model with a single power-law electron distribution. The electron temperature needs to be lower than the gas temperature near the black hole to reproduce the observed radio spectrum. A more complete modeling of the radiation processes, including the general relativistic effects and transfer of polarized radiation, will give more quantitative constraints on physical processes in Sgr A* with the current multi-wavelength, multi-epoch, and polarimetric observations of this source.

The Origin of Galaxies

Early assembly of the most massive galaxies
The current consensus is that galaxies begin as small density fluctuations in the early Universe and grow by in situ star formation and hierarchical merging. Stars begin to form relatively quickly in sub-galactic sized building blocks called haloes which are subsequently assembled into galaxies. However, exactly when this assembly takes place is a matter of some debate. Here we report that the stellar masses of brightest cluster galaxies, which are the most luminous objects emitting stellar light, some 9 billion years ago are not significantly different from their stellar masses today. Brightest cluster galaxies are almost fully assembled 4-5 Gyrs after the Big Bang, having grown to more than 90% of their final stellar mass by this time. Our data conflict with the most recent galaxy formation models based on the largest simulations of dark matter halo development. These models predict protracted formation of brightest cluster galaxies over a Hubble time, with only 22% of the stellar mass assembled at the epoch probed by our sample. Our findings suggest a new picture in which brightest cluster galaxies experience an early period of rapid growth rather than prolonged hierarchical assembly.