Why Are Two Ghost Galaxies Lacking Darkish Matter?

April 6, 2019 - Comment

Two darkish matter-less galaxies make clear ghostly galaxies which might be normally darkish matter wealthy. Ghosts are in all places — ghost galaxies, that’s. Some are the dimensions of the Milky Approach and even larger, but they’ve so few stars that they’re extraordinarily faint, nearly see-through, and tough to detect. We’ve identified such galaxies exist

Two darkish matter-less galaxies make clear ghostly galaxies which might be normally darkish matter wealthy.

Ghosts are in all places — ghost galaxies, that’s. Some are the dimensions of the Milky Approach and even larger, but they’ve so few stars that they’re extraordinarily faint, nearly see-through, and tough to detect. We’ve identified such galaxies exist for many years, however solely lately have new observing methods proven simply how frequent they’re.

Most of those so-called ultra-diffuse galaxies should be unusually wealthy with darkish matter — it might present the gravitational pull to maintain the sparse stars from disbanding. However now astronomers have discovered not only one, however two such galaxies that seem to lack darkish matter altogether. The brand new discovery complicates the image of how these galaxies got here to be.

A Darkish Matter-less Galaxy

Final 12 months, Pieter van Dokkum (Yale College) and colleagues found the primary darkish matter-less galaxy on the outskirts of the elliptical NGC 1052, dubbed NGC 1052-DF2. Observing 10 globular clusters looping across the galaxy’s edges, the astronomers decided DF2’s complete mass. Seems, the overall mass is tiny and roughly equal to its mass in stars. Normally, a galaxy’s complete mass outweighs its stars by an element of 100 or extra, hinting on the presence of darkish matter. However on this galaxy, there doesn’t appear to be any hidden matter in any respect — simply stars.

(For causes astronomers nonetheless don’t perceive, the globular clusters themselves are odd, too. They’re all unusually luminous, about as vivid as Omega Centauri, the brightest globular cluster within the Milky Approach.)

The hazy blob on the middle of this Hubble picture is the weird ultra-diffuse galaxy NGC 1052–DF2, a galaxy lacking most — if not all — of its darkish matter.
NASA / ESA / P. van Dokkum (Yale College)


It’s maybe no shock that the crew’s extraordinary declare was instantly surrounded by controversy. Some astronomers argued that 10 globular clusters weren’t sufficient to present a dependable mass estimate. Others argued that the space to NGC 1052-DF2 was itself unsure, which put any makes an attempt to grasp it in disarray.

To characterize DF2, van Dokkum and colleagues had used the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, which photos every goal concurrently by means of a number of Canon 400mm lenses, akin to how a dragonfly’s eye works. The distinctive setup permits the astronomers to catch extraordinarily faint “fuzzies,” resembling giant, star-poor galaxies. Earlier than the invention of DF2, the group had characterised dozens of those ghostly galaxies within the crowded Coma Cluster, together with the curious case of Dragonfly 44, a Milky Approach-mass galaxy with 100 occasions fewer stars than our galaxy. It seems to be fabricated from 99.99% darkish matter.

Van Dokkum and colleagues had advised that, as galaxies like Dragonfly 44 fly by means of the teeming cluster atmosphere, gravitational interactions strip away the celebrities or star-forming materials. These ultra-diffuse objects, then, are basically “failed galaxies.”

The invention of DF2, although, appears to show that argument on its head — one thing has stripped this galaxy of its darkish matter, or perhaps it by no means had any to start with.

“One Is an Exception, Two Is a Inhabitants”

Now, van Dokkum’s crew has found a brand new darkish matter-less galaxy: NGC 1052-DF4. After discovering DF4 in Dragonfly photos, the crew adopted up with Hubble Area Telescope imaging and spectroscopy by means of the Keck I telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawai‘i.

DF2 and DF4

A survey picture taken with the Dragonfly Telephoto Array reveals objects throughout the discipline of the elliptical galaxy NGC 1052 (middle). Amongst these objects are DF2 (backside left) and DF4 (prime proper); each are darkish matter-deficient galaxies which might be related in dimension, luminosity, morphology, globular cluster inhabitants, and velocity dispersion.
P. van Dokkum (Yale College) / STScI / ACS

DF4 is DF2’s doppelgänger: It’s roughly the identical dimension, luminosity, and it, too, has a group of unusually vivid globular clusters. Additionally like DF2, DF4 seems to have a complete mass equal to its stellar mass, as soon as once more negating the necessity for darkish matter.

“What the paper cannot convey is how extremely shocked we had been!” van Dokkum wrote on Twitter shortly after the paper’s launch on the astronomy preprint arXiv. The examine seems within the March 20th Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The invention of a second darkish matter-less galaxy lends credence to the primary discover, and never solely as a result of two are higher than one. In a case of peer overview going spectacularly proper, van Dokkum and colleagues adopted an nameless referee’s suggestion to measure DF4’s mass a second approach, by measuring the rate of the celebrities within the galaxy itself. Neither Dragonfly, Hubble, nor Keck can resolve the faint, faraway stars into factors; as a substitute, the astronomers used Keck to select up the celebrities’ diffuse gentle, very like stargazers beneath darkish skies can see the faint, milky glow of billions of stars in our galaxy.

By measuring the velocities of the diffuse starlight, the astronomers confirmed the mass that they had estimated earlier than. The crew, this time led by Shany Danieli (Yale), additionally went again and measured the diffuse gentle from DF2, confirming its low mass as nicely. The up to date outcomes on DF2 are printed within the April 1st Astrophysical Journal Letters (preprint out there right here.)

“I believe there may be actually one thing to the low velocity dispersion (and due to this fact low mass) claims,” says Michelle Collins (College of Surrey, UK), who was not concerned within the examine. She had voiced doubts about DF2 when it was first found, however she notes, “I’m actually not frightened in regards to the statistics any extra.”

However, there’s nonetheless work to be executed. Lots of circumstantial proof means that DF2 and DF4 belong to the cluster of galaxies round NGC 1052, however not all people is satisfied.

“The excellent subject,” Collins continues, “is the space to each DF2 and DF4. In the event that they had been actually nearer, the galaxies would seem extra typical, and would have a typical quantity of darkish matter. With out extra knowledge, this distance estimate stays extremely unsure, so I’m actually undecided what to make of it.” Upcoming Hubble observations ought to resolve the space query as soon as and for all.

Darkish Matter-Wealthy Galaxies

So why do NGC 1052-DF2 and DF4 look so completely different from many of the ultra-diffuse galaxies seen close by within the Coma Cluster? Among the many hundreds of like galaxies lurking there, most are wealthy in darkish matter, with as much as 98% of their mass being “darkish.”

“We may be highlighting the intense ends of the distribution,” Collins says. “In between, I think there might be numerous ultra-diffuse galaxies which have roughly typical quantities of darkish matter, too.”

Coma Cluster

Coma Cluster
Adam Block / Mount Lemmon SkyCenter / College of Arizona

DF2 and DF4 do have one frequent attribute with the darkish matter-rich Coma Cluster galaxies: a preponderance of globular clusters. In 2017 van Dokkum and colleagues discovered that greater than half of the ultra-diffuse galaxies in Coma had extra globular clusters than anticipated. These historical stellar cities had been born billions of years in the past, they usually in all probability maintain clues as to the galaxies’ delivery and evolution — nonetheless, it’s not clear how the galaxies and their globular clusters are associated.

To attempt to make sense of ultra-diffuse galaxies as a complete, Pavel Mancera Piña (ASTRON and College of Groningen, The Netherlands) and colleagues lately undertook a big survey of eight galaxy clusters, discovering 442 galaxies that meet the of being each giant and really faint. The group discovered that extra of those galaxies are usually “pink and lifeless” after they’re nearer to the cluster facilities, which means that the cluster atmosphere has torn away the fabric wanted to make new (and blue) stars.

The examine, printed within the Could subject of the Month-to-month Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, means that ultra-diffuse galaxies are basically huge dwarfs: They’ve regular quantities of stars for dwarf galaxies, it’s simply that they’re unusually giant. That clarification runs counterpoint to the “failed galaxy” principle that van Dokkum and others have espoused.

“The definition of ultra-diffuse galaxies could be very broad,” Collins notes. “Given the large vary of properties allowed by the present definition, I believe it’s possible there may be multiple ‘kind’ of galaxy caught on this definition.”

However galactic ghosthunters haven’t given up: As Piña’s group continues a sequence of research on the ultra-diffuse inhabitants as a complete, the Dragonfly crew remains to be looking for the darkish matter-less outliers.

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