Whisper From the First Stars Sets Off Loud Dark Matter Debate

What could make the early universe appear cold? Rennan Barkana thought through the possibilities and realized that it could be a consequence of the presence of dark matter — the mysterious substance that pervades the universe yet escapes every attempt to understand what it is or how it works. He found that the EDGES result could be interpreted as a completely new way that ordinary material might be interacting with dark matter. The EDGES group announced the details of this signal and the detection of the first stars in the March 1 issue of Nature. Accompanying their article was Barkana’s paper describing his novel dark matter idea. News outlets worldwide carried news of the discovery. “Astronomers Glimpse Cosmic Dawn, When the Stars Switched On,” the Associated Press reported, adding that “they may have detected mysterious dark matter at work, too.” Yet in the weeks since the announcement, cosmologists around the world have expressed a mix of excitement and skepticism.

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