Invisible Dark-Matter Galaxy has Ten Billion Xs the Mass of the Sun
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December 23, 2009

Invisible Dark-Matter Galaxy has Ten Billion Xs the Mass of the Sun

6a00d8341bf7f753ef0120a772b527970b-500wi New evidence has been discovered by an international team led by astronomers from the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory and from Cardiff University in the United Kingdom that VIRGOHI 21, a mysterious cloud of hydrogen in the Virgo Cluster 50 million light-years from the Earth, is a Dark Galaxy, emitting no starlight. Their results not only indicate the presence of a dark galaxy but also explain the long-standing mystery of its strangely stretched neighbour. Skeptics of the dark-matter interpretation argue that VIRGOHI21 is simply a tidal tail of the nearby galaxy NGC 4254.

The observations, made with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands, show that the hydrogen gas in VIRGOHI 21 appears to be rotating, suggesting a dark galaxy with over ten billion times the mass of the Sun. Only one percent of this mass has been detected as neutral hydrogen – the rest appears to be dark matter.

The results may also solve a long-standing puzzle about nearby galaxy NGC 4254 -a lopsided object, with one spiral arm much larger than the rest. This is usually caused by the influence of a companion galaxy, but none could be found until now – the team thinks VIRGOHI 21 is the culprit.

“The Dark Galaxy theory explains both the observations of VIRGOHI 21 and the mystery of NGC 4254,” says Dr. Robert Minchin of the Arecibo Observatory.

Gas from NGC 4254 is being torn away by the dark galaxy, forming a temporary link between the two and stretching the arm of the spiral galaxy. As the VIRGOH1 21 moves on, the two will separate and NGC 4254’s unusual arm will relax back to match its partner.

The team have looked at many other possible explanations, but have found that only the Dark Galaxy theory can explain all of the observations. As Professor Mike Disney of Cardiff University puts it, “The new observations make it even harder to escape the conclusion that VIRGOHI 21 is a Dark Galaxy.”

“We’re going to be searching for more Dark Galaxies with the new ALFA instrument at Arecibo Observatory,” explains Dr. Jon Davies of Cardiff University. “We hope to find many more over the next few years – this is a very exciting time!”

Casey Kazan

Image: The dark galaxy VIRGOHI 21 has no starlight, but radio waves from neutral hydrogen gas betray its existence. The contours superimposed on this colour optical image from the Isaac Newton Telescope in the Canary Islands indicate how much gas was detected with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. Credit: R. Minchin / Arecibo Observatory / Cardiff University / Isaac Newton Telescope / Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope.

Comments

"Invisible Dark-Matter Galaxy has Ten Billion Xs the Mass of the Sun"

Considering that most galaxies are filled with stars, they would all have billion Xs the mass of the sun. So the statement doesn't actually say anything?


I am skeptic too.
If the gas cloud is rotating and is heated why it should not rotate a gigantic black hole ??
What other evidence of a 'dark galaxy' at some 50MLY in the Virgo cluster they have ???
The article says nothing about what is a 'dark galaxy'...so we get kind of confused ...by 'dark galaxies'...

You and them are evidently aware of the huge interstellar cloud found recently by Voyager (NASA web site refers).

Regards to the visible galaxies

assuming it is a dark galaxy, would it contain dark stars, and dark planets, and dark life? A dark matter galaxy neighbor would only interact by gravity. Galactic mergers trigger star birth,galactic spiral arms, and solar systems. WOuld the same processes be going on with dark matter that are going on with normal visible matter? Sounds likes they are making up a fairy tale giving unseen structure calling it a dark galaxy because dark matter is so little understood.
www.quantauniverse.com


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