In a first, scientists have discovered a galaxy that is nearly completely devoid of dark matter - the mysterious substance believed to make up most of the universe.The galaxy, known as NGC1052-DF2, has been classified as an an ultra-diffuse galaxy, a relatively new type of galaxy that was first discovered in 2015. 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.
"We didn't expect that this could happen", said Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum who is also the lead author of the study. Dark matter is called so as it can't be seen and does not emit light or energy.
This might seem counterintuitive, but DF2 actually supports the existence of dark matter, which some theories argue doesn't exist.
This finding seems to suggest that dark matter has "its own separate existence apart from other components of galaxies", he added.
While NGC 1052-DF2 doesn't break any fundamental rules of the dark matter theory, Bauer said the galaxy is surprising and unexpected enough to force astrophysicists to develop some new models of how galaxies come together. All the clusters' movements could be explained exclusively by the mass of the galaxy's observed stars. In fact, every galaxy that astronomers have ever studied contains dark matter. Hubble helped to accurately confirm the distance of NGC 1052-DF2 to be 65 million light-years and determined its size and brightness. The scientist says that if dark matter is a real substance that it can be present or not separately from regular matter in the universe. Usllay galaxies have a larger mass than can be accounted for just by the ordinary matter inside them. "I spent an hour just staring at the Hubble image", van Dokkum said.
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Van Dokkum and colleagues identified the galaxy, NGC 1052-DF2, using a low-budget setup called the Dragonfly Telephoto Array in New Mexico, which they designed from 48 commercial cameras and paparazzi-style lenses. Because there's some regular issue right here, any kind of variation of customized gravity would certainly have that issue generate dark-matter-like impacts. "It's so sparse that you can see all the galaxies behind it".
Look out into the universe, and we see an abundance of matter, in stars, planets, dust, nebulae and galaxies, but there's something even more abundant out there, that we can't see. "It looked like a diffuse blob sprinkled with very compact star clusters", said co-author Shany Danieli, a Yale graduate student. To find an explanation, the team is already hunting for more dark-matter deficient galaxies as they analyse Hubble images of 23 ultra-diffuse galaxies - three of which appear to be similar to NGC 1052-DF2. In another, an enormous galaxy that's relatively close to DF2 may have somehow influenced the smaller galaxy during its formation. "The key thing is to see whether the globular clusters really are tracing the mass of the galaxy as a whole".
The thing about dark matter, or whatever's causing outer space to move so weirdly, is that it's predictably distributed throughout the universe. But how it formed is a complete mystery.
NGC 1052-DF2 is missing its dark matter. The astronomers speculate that the birth and formation of DF2 in the dynamic environment of the cluster could have been influenced by the giant galaxy. Future observatories under construction, such as the European Extremely Large Telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert, or NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, should be able to take such measurements.