Researchers solve the mystery of galaxy which is void of dark matter

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NGC 1052 DF2 ghostly galaxy lacking dark matter
Image of NGC1052-DF2, galaxy lacking dark matter, taken by Hubble using its Advanced Camera for Surveys. (Credits - Wikimedia Commons)

An earlier discovery that a galaxy without dark matter existed was indeed a mystery and was incompatible according to current theories however it has now been resolved. According to a new analysis the NGC1052-DF2 galaxy which was found last year is closer to us than expected and previously calculated, which means it is likely to contain dark matter. The study has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Dark matter is indeed a big mystery in itself as we cannot detect that it exists and even we do not know it exists but we know it is present which creates the effect of mass in the universe. Objects in the galaxies move faster than they should be moving because of this undetectable force due to the extra mass of dark matter which in turn generates more gravitational force than normal.

Dark matter is fundamental to our understanding of the universe. It has helped in the formation of stars and galaxies from the primaeval soup that existed after big bang and dark matter is what prevents bodies in the galaxy from just flying off into the unknown.

After reading and seeing the formation of the NGC1052-DF2 galaxy it changes the way as to how we think galaxies are formed. For decades we have thought that galaxies were formed due to dark matter and later forms stars due to the gases present in the dark matter. It is a critical ingredient in understanding the universe.

An international team of researchers led by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) decided to take a closer look at this galaxy and found out that anomalous measurements that were recorded in previous research have pointed out the absence of dark matter was dependant on the distance to the galaxy around 64 million light years away. Researchers used five separate telescopes including Hubble and the Gemini Observatory to recalculate the distance to NGC1052-DF2 galaxy.

The distance obtained was close to 42 million light years away instead of 62 million light years which was recorded earlier and based on this, the mass of galaxy was half as less than it was previously assumed to be and the stars were about a quarter their weight. This galaxy has lesser mass but the existing mass contains more dark matter than traditional matter. The previous theory of absence of dark matter was due to the slow movement of star clusters however now the movement seems normal. It now appears as an ordinary low brightness galaxy with plenty of room for dark matter. More such galaxies exist where absence of dark matter is speculated, the NGC1052-DF4 being a similar case.

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