The Galactic Centre Gamma-Ray Excess: Signature of Dark Matter or Ancient Stars?

Astronomers have discovered an anomalous, gamma-ray signal from the Inner Milky Way (the 'Galactic Centre Gamma-Ray Excess') in data collected by the orbiting Fermi gamma-ray telescope. The signal has been claimed as a compelling, indirect signal of the annihilation of dark matter particles in this region of the Galaxy. Alternatively, the signal could be the signature of some unknown stellar population; pulsars or millisecond pulsars would be strong candidates to explain the mysterious gamma-ray signal. However, this begs the question: what processes could be responsible for producing such unanticipated populations of compact objects in the Inner Galaxy? In this project you will use some combination of theoretical population synthesis calculations and/or analysis of public data from the Fermi telescope to examine the question: what is the real origin of the Galactic Centre Gamma-Ray Excess?

Image Credit: Macias et al. 2016 (arXiv:1611.06644v2)

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