Scientists puzzled by exotic distant galaxy lacking dark matter

Galaxy without any dark matter baffles astronomers

This discovery is unpredicted by current theories on the distribution of dark matter and its influence on galaxy formation. It is this mysterious element that is supposed to hold galaxies together when gravity can no longer do the work.

Stupefied astronomers on Wednesday unveiled the first and only known galaxy without dark matter, the invisible and poorly-understood substance thought to make up a quarter of the Universe.

NGC 1052-DF2 resides about 65 million light-years away in the NGC 1052 Group, which is dominated by a massive elliptical galaxy called NGC 1052.

Dark matter does not emit electromagnetic radiation, and remains immune to direct observation.

Nearly a year later, a team from the Haystack Observatory at MIT reported that they spotted traces of the earliest light in the universe, which are believed to have come from the first stars, which formed about 180 million years after the Big Bang.

Therefore, researchers were surprised when they uncovered a galaxy that is missing most, if not all, of its dark matter. "So, finding a galaxy without it is unexpected". Theoretically, it is thanks to it that their formation could have been initiated. 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 accumulate slowly and we end up with galaxies of the type of the Milky Way. "This whole story is one of dark matter being the scaffolding on which every galaxy is built", said van Dokkum.

The velocities gave an upper estimate for the galactic mass of 400 times lower than expected. How is it possible?

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The galaxy had been imaged before but on second look, the team noticed it looked very different from other imaged galaxies. At this point, there is really no answer. The leading dark matter theory predicts that this "sea" of particles moves around a galaxy in deep, plunging orbits like comets around the sun.

Galaxy NGC1052-DF2, or DF2, is roughly the size of our own Milky Way galaxy, but has only 1/200 of the stars, according to the experts. Unlike the classic spiral galaxies, DF2 does not have a dense central region, no spiral arms, no disc of matter. A lot more typically, exactly how do you create a galaxy without dark issue?

"I spent an hour just staring at the Hubble image", says van Dokkum, "This thing is astonishing: a enormous blob that you can look through". 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. "It is literally a see-through galaxy", he 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".

"The absence of dark matter from a small patch of sky might appear to be a non-problem, given that astronomers have never directly observed dark matter anywhere", says The Guardian.

"Often the case with the universe is, it's more surprising and more interesting than you think", Abraham said.

The discovery may result in a change in what scientists now believe, as indicated by Professor Roberto Abraham. Scientists have yet to be able to directly observe dark matter.

Unfortunately, dark matter research is facing a hurdle, as the Trump administration's NASA budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 places the funding of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope in question.

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