Feeds

Astronomers spot first ever dark galaxy

More cocoa than a regular galaxy

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

An international team of astronomers has discovered what appears to be a galaxy composed entirely of dark matter. The galaxy, "visible" to radio telescopes, was first spotted by stargazers using the University of Manchester's Lovell telescope, and later confirmed by observers at the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico.

Our artist's impression of what the galaxy might look like

The astronomers have been scanning the skies for these dark galaxies - areas of matter that rotate like galaxies, but that don't give off any light - by studying how hydrogen atoms are distributed across the universe. During their search, they found an unexpectedly large quantity of hydrogen - a mass around 100m times that of the sun - in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, around 50m light-years away.

Dr Robert Minchin from Cardiff University is co-discoverer of the galaxy. He says that from the speed it is spinning, the team calculated that the galaxy, dubbed named VIRGOHI21, was a thousand times more massive than could be accounted for by the observed hydrogen atoms alone. The observational data from VIRGOHI21 so far suggests that it is a rotating flat disc of hydrogen, just like ordinary spiral galaxies.

"If it were an ordinary galaxy, then it should be quite bright and would be visible with a good amateur telescope," Minchin said.

Theory predicts that there is five times more dark matter than ordinary matter in the universe. The theory of galaxy formation also predicts that there ought to be more galaxies than we can see. These two factors have prompted researchers to hypothesise that there might be dark galaxies, hidden, unseen, throughout the universe. Scientists think these dark galaxies form when the material in a galaxy is not dense enough to form stars. ®

Related stories

Scientists spot really, really big black hole
NASA re-schedules Swift launch
Missing galaxies puzzle scientists

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.