According to new research headed by Katherine Freese of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, dark matter not only had a role to play in fueling early stars, it may have created "dark stars" so massive that they went on to spawn supermassive black holes.
Supermassive black holes are the behemoths of the universe. With a mass of a million suns, these monsters can be found living in the centers of galaxies, devouring any stars that stray too close.
Although we've come a long way in detecting and understanding the physics behind supermassive black holes, it's far from clear as to how they evolved.
Some theories suggest they appeared straight from the primordial soup immediately after the Big Bang (13.75 billion years ago); other theories suggest they formed over long periods of time, sucking in (or "accreting") mass by swallowing stars and gas. But there isn't a definitive answer, and this is where dark stars come in.
Fueled by Annihilation
As dark matter is its own anti-particle, when dark matter particles collide, they annihilate and release energy. (Normal matter needs "anti-matter" to annihilate, a commodity that is, fortunately, very rare in nature.) Inside a hypothetical dark star, the dark matter particles were forced together, colliding and annihilating. This produced an outward force, maintaining the dark star against gravitational collapse and making it shine.