5 Baffling Subatomic Particles

Axions, Henchmen and Black Holes
What a great couple!
What a great couple!
Michael Li/Creative Commons

Batman tends to have a rather tumultuous time with the ladies. If he's not dodging lethal kisses from Poison Ivy, then it's some sort of drama with Catwoman. Look, either marry her or throw her in prison already.

And then there's Harley Quinn, the homicidal she-clown with an undying (and unhealthy) love for Batman's arch nemesis the Joker. Sure, plenty of super villains have their hangers-on and henchmen, but she stands apart as a true sidekick.

In the subatomic world, physicists continue to keep an eye out for a hypothetical particle known as an axion. The axion is of particular note because its existence would plug a major gap in the standard model of particle physics. It's also a possible dark matter component.

But let's get back to the Batman comparisons. If axions are Harley Quinn, then who's the Joker? Why none other than black holes. That's right, scientists theorize that while black holes suck in everything from photons to stars, axions are immune to their destructive power. Instead of falling into the crushing singularity, axions would orbit the collapsed star in an enormous boson cloud.

Even crazier, this cloud eventually becomes quite massive, despite the extremely low mass of its axions. Should the cloud finally collapse into the black hole, the resulting bosenova would rock the very fabric of space-time [source: O'Neill]. Talk about an unbalanced relationship.

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