BusinessAstronomers Discover a Strange Galaxy Without Dark Matter

Astronomers Discover a Strange Galaxy Without Dark Matter


Three years in the past, Filippo Fraternali and his colleagues noticed a half dozen mysteriously diffuse galaxies, which seemed like sprawling cities of stars and gasoline. But not like nearly each different galaxy ever seen—together with our personal Milky Way—they didn’t appear to be enshrouded in large lots of darkish matter, which might usually maintain these stellar metropolises along with their gravity. The scientists picked one to zoom in on, a modest-sized galaxy about 250,000 light-years away, they usually pointed the 27 radio telescope antennas of the Very Large Array in New Mexico at it.

After gathering 40 hours’ value of information, they mapped out the celebrities and gasoline and confirmed what the sooner snapshots had hinted at: “The dark matter content that we infer in this galaxy is much, much smaller than what you would expect,” says Fraternali, an astronomer at Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen within the Netherlands. If the crew or their rivals discover different such galaxies, it might pose a problem for scientists’ view of dark matter, the dominant perspective within the subject for at the least 20 years. Fraternali and his crew published their findings in December within the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Based on many years of telescope observations and pc simulations, scientists have come to consider darkish matter because the hidden skeleton of the cosmos; its “joints” are large clumps of invisible particles which host galaxies massive and small. But Fraternali isn’t the primary to glimpse an exception to that rule. Just a few years in the past, Pieter van Dokkum, an astronomer at Yale, and his colleagues discovered comparable galaxies with the Hubble telescope that additionally appeared to lack darkish matter. “These galaxies that we found in 2018, they created a lot of controversy and discussion and follow-up work because they were unexpected and difficult to explain,” van Dokkum says.

Those different galaxies lived in a crowded surroundings, the place larger, neighboring galaxies ceaselessly fly by, probably pulling away darkish matter with them. In distinction, Fraternali’s galaxy is fairly remoted, with no such bothersome neighbors, so its dearth of darkish matter can’t be defined that means. “It could be very significant,” van Dokkum says. “How do you get stars and gas in that location together without the help of dark matter?”

These unusual objects have come to be referred to as “ultra-diffuse galaxies.” They’re excessive outliers: In phrases of their mass, they’re minuscule, however they’re unfold out over huge distances. Some are as massive because the Milky Way, however with solely a hundredth as many stars—and even fewer. They’re so near being clear that they’re robust to spy within the night time sky. “They’re slightly fainter in the center, so they’re difficult to detect. Now, with better telescopes and deeper observations, they have become more well known,” says Mireia Montes, an astronomer on the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and an knowledgeable on such galaxies.

Starting within the 1960s, American astronomer Vera Rubin and others first revealed the seemingly existence of unseen, or “dark,” matter whereas measuring how briskly stars in galaxies whirl across the heart, exhibiting that inside stars orbit at completely different speeds than outer ones. Based on these stars’ rotation, scientists calculated how a lot mass the galaxy will need to have to maintain them consistently orbiting, fairly than being flung into area. For many galaxies, that mass was many occasions bigger than that of all the celebrities added up. Scientists resolved the issue by inferring the presence of some form of darkish matter, which doesn’t emit or replicate mild, and which should be making up the remainder of the mass that’s holding the galaxy collectively.

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