A recently published research paper featuring in the Astrophysical Journal suggests dwarf galaxy close to Milky Way is packed with dark matter.
Dark matter has been a puzzling research topic for scientists. While theoretical models indicate its existence, it has never been observed. Not directly at least. It’s presence is rather suggested in close relation with visible matter that can be directly observed and measured scientifically.
The faint and dwarf galaxy observed by scientists with the California Institute of Technology is one such example where the presence of dark matter was intimated by observations on the few visible stars. In the outskirts of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, Triangulum II is a faint presence. Yet one packed with dense dark matter according to the scientific team.
Evan Kirby, lead author on the research paper and assistant professor of astronomy with the California Institute of Technology stated that Triangulum II was at least challenging to observe. Only six stars in the faint dwarf galaxy were emitting sufficient light to be detected by the Keck Telescope.
Working with just these six stars and measuring their velocity and other data, the team was able to extract the gravitational force exercised by dark matter in Triangulum II. The mass of the stars in the faint dwarf galaxy couldn’t account for the total measured mass of the galaxy. Thus the researchers concluded that dark matter is responsible for the rest. At the same time, the ratio of dark matter in Triangulum II is one of the highest ever measured.
Dark matter has never been measured direct. While the development of methods to do so is a priority for astrophysicists, the only way to conduct such observations was indirect. Now knowing that a dwarf galaxy close to Milky Way is packed with dark matter, Kirby suggests that it is the perfect spot to start developing new methodologies.
Dark matter particles are dubbed weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). They are thought to collide across the universe and release gamma rays. The only obstacle is that until now, gamma rays produced in the collision of WIMPs have been difficult to detect.
The results of the study on Triangulum II and dense dark matter within must first be confirmed before moving on to detecting dark matter with gamma rays.
Photo Credits: Flickr
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