Published: Fri, March 30, 2018
Sci-tech | By Bennie Mills

Scientists baffled by discovery of 'weird galaxy' where dark matter doesn't exist

Scientists baffled by discovery of 'weird galaxy' where dark matter doesn't exist

They no longer rule out that there are probably more ways to create a galaxy than just starting from a dark matter core. Its presence is instead inferred through the gravitational pull it exerts on any normal matter around it. Astrophysicists think dark matter's gravity is crucial for forming the universe's large-scale structure of filaments and sheets of galaxy clusters, and scientists have even measured how clumps of it act as gravitational lenses, magnifying light from far-distant background galaxies.

Before, scientists believed that galaxies were composed of stars, gases and dark matter, all mixed together. In any case, this one seems to have none. "Dragonfly is good at finding these sorts of objects".

This galaxy, NGC 1052-DF2, is the size of the Milky Way but only has 1/200 the amount of stars, with no dense center or spiral arms or black hole. Roberto Abraham from the University of Toronto and co-author of the paper, in a statement. NGC1052-DF2 was discovered while scientists were searching for large, ultra-diffuse galaxies to study.

"This thing is astonishing: a big blob so sparse that you see the galaxies behind it".

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Van Dokkum said NGC1052-DF2 is so sparse that "it is literally a see-through galaxy".

Ultra-Diffuse galaxies had been identified previously in other galaxy clusters.

The team tracked the motions of 10 bright star clusters and found that they were travelling way below the velocities expected.

However, this new study by astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and several other observatories of a galaxy known as NGC 1052-DF2 that appears to have very little, if no dark matter al all, now challenges this currently-accepted theory.

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The answers were pretty surprising. But observations through telescopes show them spinning way faster than we'd expect, as if they were actually much more massive than the stars we can see indicate. However, the discovered galaxy has only 300 million solar masses. It is an exceptional find since galaxies are commonly thought to contain more dark matter than the ordinary matter that makes up a galaxy's stars, gas and dust. They gravitationally attract ordinary, or baryonic, matter which eventually settles within the extant cloud of dark matter. To understand more, Roberto Abraham and Pieter van Dokkum, armed with their fantastic telescope, are already looking for other similar galaxies. It turns out that a galaxy without dark matter is incompatible with models that replace it using modified gravity. If it has no dark matter, how did it even evolve into a galaxy?

If the current theory is wrong, that will also affect the strategies of the experiments trying to catch dark matter particles on Earth, says Bullock.

So NGC 1052-DF2 is a head-scratcher whether you lean toward dark matter or toward MOND.

The galaxy is about 65 million light-years away in the constellation of Cetus and is about the same size as the Milky Way.

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"We really thought that this is the essence of what a galaxy is, that galaxies are built from, initially, a bunch of dark matter and that all the stars and all the planets and everything else is just a little frost on top", van Dokkum added. Each of these theories needs to be examined to determine if it could have formed NGC1052-DF2. Yet according to Pieter van Dokkum from Yale University, this galaxy has nearly none. The researchers figured out NGC 1052-DF2's spin speed by looking at the movement of 10 objects in the region of the galaxy.

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