Unique, oddball galaxy is strangely devoid of dark matter

30 March, 2018, 00:43 | Author: Myrtle Cook
  • Astronomers perplexed to find that distant galaxy has no dark matter

Scientists have been stunned by the discovery of a so-called "ghost galaxy" that appears to contain virtually no dark matter, once thought to be a key building block for galaxies. It challenges the standard ideas of how we think galaxies work, and it shows that dark matter is real.

Utilizing a group of lenses called the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, a team led by Yale University's Pieter van Dokkum investigated NGC1052-DF2. "It's so rare, particularly these days after so many years of Hubble, that you get an image of something and say, 'I've never seen that before.' This thing is astonishing, a big blob that you can look through. It is literally a see-through galaxy". That thinking led van Dokkum and his colleagues to build the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, a telescope in New Mexico created for the express objective of scrutinizing ultra-diffuse galaxies.

The team tracked the motions of 10 bright star clusters and found that they were travelling way below the velocities expected. But physicists contacted by Live Science to discuss this paper mostly said the finding made dark matter (already the dominant explanation for the universe's weirdness) look a lot more likely. That's when they realized that this galaxy was very, very different from other galaxies. To modern astrophysicists, galaxies are more notable for their dark sides: their hidden material that is only "seen" by its gravitational pull upon the shiny stuff it seems to vastly outweigh. His stars are enough to explain his whole mass, and there seems to be no extra space for dark matter, "he added".

There have been several ideas that have floated around regarding the true nature of dark matter, and discoveries like this will only push astronomers to unlocking its secrets. So even among this unusual class of galaxy, NGC 1052-DF2 is an oddball. The researchers initially used Dragonfly to study a different galaxy, one appearing to possess an nearly inconceivably gargantuan amount of dark matter, which was a weird result in and of itself. "This result also suggests that there may be more than one way to form a galaxy".

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Each of these would certainly have to be analyzed in information to identify if it can develop the distinctive attributes of NGC1052- DF2. The researchers then set about measuring the movements of the clusters as a way to estimate the galaxy's total mass.

Around 65 million light-years away, there's a galaxy which is called NGC1052-DF2 and which diminishes and diffuse. The galaxy is a complete mystery, as everything about it is odd. This would allow the gas to form stars away from clumps of dark matter. "In those theories, every galaxy should show a dark matter signature, as it's not due to dark matter at all but due to the laws of physics", van Dokkum explained. Stars and clusters in the outskirts of galaxies containing dark matter move at least three times faster. Had there been dark matter, the clusters would be moving slower or faster.

Experts have described DF2 as "ghostly" as a result of its lack of dark matter and scant stars. They can't agree on what it's made of, how much a single particle weighs, or the best way to construct a Play-Doh diorama of it.

About a year ago, University of Waterloo researchers captured a composite image that strongly supports the existence of dark matter. If dark matter were one of the unexplained effects of the gravity that differentiates it from regular matter, the effect of it would be visible in the galaxy. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope.



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