New space telescope is named after a fantastic planet

The European Space Agency will create a new small telescope to search for dark matter. It will be named Arrakhis after the planet from the Dune, a series of science fiction novels by Frank Herbert.

The star streams that the Arrakhis telescope will explore. Source:

Arrakhis Telescope

On Arrakhis, according to the book, it was possible to find a substance called “spice”, which allowed traveling faster than light.

Scientists are also hunting for exotic substances, but they are mainly interested in dark matter. This term refers to that part of the mass of the Universe that does not manifest itself in any way, except for the gravitational interaction.

The mission is characterized as fast, but this only means that it takes less than 10 years to prepare for launch. The last such mission was called Comet Interceptor, and it has been under construction since 2019. Arrakhis is scheduled to launch in the early 2030s.

How to see dark matter?

Despite its small size, Arrakhis can observe truly global processes. Dark matter itself is invisible. However, its propagation in the Universe is indicated by the movement of objects interacting with it and at the same time emitting light.

Scientists believe that entire galaxies can oscillate from side to side under the influence of dark matter. And it, in turn, is located in space extremely unevenly, forming whole thickenings. They should contain small star systems.

In particularly extreme cases, the gravitational forces of dark matter can tear galaxies apart, forming stellar streams. They are the ones that scientists who will work with Arrakhis most want to see.

Milky Way and invisible galaxies

In particular, this also applies to our Milky Way. Scientists already know that there are a lot of stellar streams in it, and on the contrary, there are fewer stars in the halo than there should be. Therefore, it is quite possible that it forms a thickening next to our star system, which we do not see.

Milky Way. Source:

Dark matter is considered “cold”. That is, its particles are massive and move slowly. But it can also be made up of lighter elements. And then it should form much fewer thickenings. But in order to find out all this, it is necessary to accurately identify all dwarf galaxies near the Milky Way. Scientists are sure that some of them are still hiding from us. Arrakhis will do their mapping using its wide-angle infrared camera first of all.

According to

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