A striking signal of dark matter beyond the standard model is the existence of cores in the centre of galaxy clusters. Recent simulations predict that a Brightest Cluster Galaxy (BCG) inside a cored galaxy cluster will exhibit residual wobbling due to previous major mergers, long after the relaxation of the overall cluster. This phenomenon is absent with standard cold dark matter where a cuspy density profile keeps a BCG tightly bound at the centre. We test this hypothesis using cosmological simulations and deep observations of 10 galaxy clusters acting as strong gravitational lenses. Modelling the BCG wobble as a simple harmonic oscillator, we measure the wobble amplitude, , in the BAHAMAS suite of cosmological hydrodynamical simulations, finding an upper limit for the CDM paradigm of kpc at the 95% confidence limit. We carry out the same test on the data finding a non-zero amplitude of kpc, with the observations dis-favouring at the 3 confidence level. This detection of BCG wobbling is evidence for a dark matter core at the heart of galaxy clusters. It also shows that strong lensing models of clusters cannot assume that the BCG is exactly coincident with the large scale halo. While our small sample of galaxy clusters already indicates a non-zero , with larger surveys, e.g. Euclid, we will be able to not only to confirm the effect but also to use it to determine whether or not the wobbling finds its origin in new fundamental physics or astrophysical process.David Harvey, F. Courbin, J. P. Kneib, Ian G. McCarthy. "A detection of wobbling brightest cluster galaxies within massive galaxy clusters." 472(2) Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 1972 (2017).
Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered that the brightest galaxies within galaxy clusters "wobble" relative to the cluster's centre of mass. This unexpected result is inconsistent with predictions made by the current standard model of dark matter. . . .
[C]lusters have very dense cores, each containing a massive galaxy called the "brightest cluster galaxy" (BCG). The standard model of dark matter (cold dark matter model) predicts that once a galaxy cluster has returned to a "relaxed" state after experiencing the turbulence of a merging event, the BCG does not move from the cluster's centre. It is held in place by the enormous gravitational influence of dark matter. But now, a team of Swiss, French, and British astronomers have analysed ten galaxy clusters observed with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and found that their BCGs are not fixed at the centre as expected.
The Hubble data indicate that they are "wobbling" around the centre of mass of each cluster long after the galaxy cluster has returned to a relaxed state following a merger. In other words, the centre of the visible parts of each galaxy cluster and the centre of the total mass of the cluster -- including its dark matter halo -- are offset, by as much as 40,000 light-years. "We found that the BCGs wobble around centre of the halos," explains David Harvey, astronomer at EPFL, Switzerland, and lead author of the paper. "This indicates that, rather than a dense region in the centre of the galaxy cluster, as predicted by the cold dark matter model, there is a much shallower central density. This is a striking signal of exotic forms of dark matter right at the heart of galaxy clusters."
The wobbling of the BCGs could only be analysed as the galaxy clusters studied also act as gravitational lenses. . . . This effect, called strong gravitational lensing, can be used to make a map of the dark matter associated with the cluster, enabling astronomers to work out the exact position of the centre of mass and then measure the offset of the BCG from this centre.
If this "wobbling" is not an unknown astrophysical phenomenon and in fact the result of the behaviour of dark matter, then it is inconsistent with the standard model of dark matter and can only be explained if dark matter particles can interact with each other -- a strong contradiction to the current understanding of dark matter.From the press release is here. Hat tip wolram.