Astronomers Discover a Transparent, Seemingly Impossible Galaxy Without Dark Matter In It

Astronomers baffled by distant galaxy that doesn't have any dark matter

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.

But after 30-plus years of telescope observations, most researchers do agree on one thing: The universe contains a lot of it. Astrophysicists think dark matter dominates ordinary matter in the universe by more than five times because galaxies rotate too fast for their visible star-stuff to handle.

To see whether this is the case with NGC1052-DF2, the researchers used the Keck telescope to image some of the structures that appeared to be present within the galaxy (the objects appeared to be bright versions of the globular clusters seen in other galaxies, including our own).

Roughly 65 million light-years away from Earth is a galaxy called NGC 1052-DF2 (DF2 for short).

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Van Dokkum said NGC1052-DF2 is so sparse that "it is literally a see-through galaxy". Further measurements of the dynamical properties of 10 globular clusters orbiting the galaxy allowed the team to infer an independent value of the galaxies mass. Thus, it is being speculated that the formation of this particular galaxy ought to be very different from the formation of the other galaxies that consist dark matter. How could this galaxy have formed? In spite of the fact that we can't straightforwardly watch it, we know dark matter is there in light of the fact that we can perceive how its gravity influences ordinary matter.

This is the reason that dark matter can never be detected directly.

He also raised the possibility that another galaxy nearby was tweaking NGC 1052-DF2's motion through an element of MOND called the "external field effect".

Therefore, researchers were surprised when they uncovered a galaxy that is missing most, if not all, of its dark matter.

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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. And 10 objects isn't always enough to accurately measure a galaxy's movement."When more data are obtained, sometimes this [amount] proves to have been enough, but sometimes it proves to have been inadequate".

Most paths to explaining NGC 1052-DF2's formation implicate its galactic neighbors.

This might seem counterintuitive, but DF2 actually supports the existence of dark matter, which some theories argue doesn't exist. "It is completely unknown how it is possible to form such a galaxy". But dark matter theorists have relied heavily on the idea of "abundance matching", which links the masses of dark matter halos closely to the masses of the galaxies they surround. Since there's some normal matter here, any version of modified gravity would have that matter produce dark-matter-like effects. That stellar sparseness means it does not look much like a typical spiral galaxy, but rather a loosely connected, ghostly blob of star-pocked gas and dust. One idea is that the gas got concentrated as it was being ejected from a galaxy merger; another is that it formed from matter spewed out by quasars. 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.

Finding a total lack of dark matter might also, paradoxically, give scientists evidence for the existence of the unusual stuff. Simply put, the velocity at which clusters orbit a galaxy is related to the amount of matter-normal or dark-that a galaxy contains.

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