Dark Matter

Two teams of astronomers have recently found evidence for the existence of MACHOs (Massively Compact Halo Objects) in the mysterious dark matter surrounding our galaxy. MACHOs are largely thought to be brown dwarfs, together with remnants of stellar explosions such as black holes and neutron stars. Since 1989, the teams, one American and Australian combined and the other French, have been scouring the large Magellanic Cloud looking for MACHOs. Using extremely sensitive charge coupled devices which convert starlight into electrical impulses, the teams have studied millions of images of distant stars. They have been searching for unusually bright flashes which occur as a result of the lensing effect of MACHOs passing infront of these stars. Both teams think that they have seen flashes. the French team found flashes from two stars, on e in December 1990, and the other in February 1992. The American/Australian team's flash appeared in an image taken in March 1993. Both teams stress that it may be too early to be certain that MACHOs are responsible but the signs are very promising.

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