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Space & Astronomy

Mystery surrounds 'dark' galaxy that emits no visible light at all

By T.K. Randall
February 12, 2023 · Comment icon 9 comments

The nature of dark matter remains a mystery. Image Credit: Smithsonian Institute
Astronomers have identified a very unusual galaxy that could help improve our understanding of dark matter.
The precise nature of dark matter and dark energy, which are thought to account for up to 96% of the observable universe, remains one of the most important unsolved mysteries in modern physics.

Despite concerted efforts, astronomers have been unable to observe dark matter directly because it does not absorb, emit or reflect any electromagnetic radiation, thus making it impossible to see.

Recently, astronomers detected the presence of a previously undiscovered dwarf galaxy known as FAST J0139+4328 which is situated 94 million light-years from the Earth.

What makes this galaxy particularly intriguing is that it does not appear to be emitting any visible light whatsoever and seems, in fact, to be made up almost entirely of dark matter.

This type of galaxy is known - unsurprisingly - as a dark galaxy.
"These findings provide observational evidence that FAST J0139+4328 is an isolated dark dwarf galaxy," scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing wrote in a new paper.

"This is the first time that an isolated dark galaxy has been detected in the nearby universe."

Because we still don't understand the nature of dark matter, it is similarly difficult to understand exactly how a galaxy like this forms and what role dark matter plays in the formation of galaxies like our own.

Some scientists even question whether dark matter actually exists at all and whether some other phenomenon could explain the discrepancies that dark matter is thought to solve.

Perhaps this newly discovered dark galaxy will provide clues that will one day help to solve the mystery once and for all.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (9)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Alchopwn 1 year ago
Thanks for reporting on this.  I don't trust what passes for Chinese Science under the CCP.  I wonder if this is actually true?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 1 year ago
When it comes to Astronomy the Chinese are accurate as any other nation, because no Nation can maintain credibility today without global peer review. The days of National Peer Review are pretty much coming to a close, and Peer Review publishers are expanding their horizons to using globally known authorities in their Peer Review Process. This is one of the reasons NATURE is one of the most highly accredited and accepted providers of Peer Reviewed Journals that exists today! JIMHO
Comment icon #3 Posted by flying squid 1 year ago
Darth Vader's home?
Comment icon #4 Posted by joc 1 year ago
How do they know there is a Galaxy there if it emitting no light?  
Comment icon #5 Posted by Nicolette 1 year ago
Right? They say you can only detect dark matter through the gravitational lensing... But I don't see how they can be so sure it's not just a big black hole. I mean if all we can see is that things are attracted to it or that it warps the view behind it.... 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 year ago
By examining how the light is bent by the gravitational lensing it is possible to determine the mass and size of the object responsible. A black hole is very dense, and so would be small (astronomically speaking). A dwarf galaxy, of the same mass, would be much more spread out and so a black hole can de discounted.  In addition, whilst black holes themselves don't emit light, they are generally surrounded by an accretion disc. This is a structure formed by material falling into the black hole and these are visible. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 1 year ago
Good question.  I would imagine that the density of the black hole is much much higher and that much mass differential can be easily seen in how it influences its surroundings. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by Rolci 1 year ago
Nowhere in the article does it say that it emits no light. All it says is that it emits no VISIBLE light. Which is but a sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum. If you had taken the time to actually read the article you would've found that: "And they got a hit: the radio waves emitted by a cloud of HI 94 million light-years away were consistent with a rotating disk galaxy, without the optical light expected of one. Follow-up observations in infrared and ultraviolet revealed a faint smattering of stars."
Comment icon #9 Posted by joc 1 year ago
No reason for me to read the article.  First, I don't really care.  Second, I didn't have time.  Third, I knew somebody like you would explain it to me.  I wasn't disappointed.  Well, I was disappointed in your attitude...but then again...I don't really care.  So, thank you for answering the question.  

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