Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

‘Missing’ Dark Matter Is Really There, Says ‘Missing’ Dark Matter Is Really There, Says Hebrew University Cosmologist

29.09.2005


A new analysis that refutes challenges to the existence of dark matter in certain galaxies appears in an article published this week in the journal Nature. Leading author of the article is Avishai Dekel, professor of physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Illustration of computer simulation showing two spiral galaxies combining to form an elliptical galaxy at right.



Accepted cosmological theory postulates that every observable galaxy in the universe (each made up of billions of stars similar to our sun) is embedded in a massive “halo" of dark matter. Though unseen, dark matter can be clearly detected indirectly by observing its tremendous gravitational effects on visible objects.

This common understanding faced a severe challenge when a team of astronomers, writing in Science in 2003, reported a surprising absence of dark matter in one type of galaxy – “elliptical" (rounded) galaxies. Their theory was based on observations that stars located at great distances from the center in such galaxies move at very slow speeds, as opposed to the great speed one would have expected from the heavy gravitational pull exerted by dark matter.


The new analysis in Nature provides a simple explanation for these observations. “In fact,” says Dekel, “our analysis fits comfortably with the standard picture in which elliptical galaxies also reside in massive dark matter halos.

"A dearth of dark matter in elliptical galaxies is especially puzzling in the context of the common theory of galaxy formation, which assumes that ellipticals originate from mergers of disk galaxies," added Dekel. "Massive dark-matter halos are clearly detected in disk galaxies, so where did they disappear to during the mergers?" asks Dekel.

The Nature article is based on simulations of galaxy mergers run on a supercomputer by graduate student Thomas J. Cox, supervised by Joel Primack, a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The simulations were analyzed by Dekel and collaborators Felix Stoehr and Gary Mamon at the Institute of Astrophysics in Paris, where Dekel is the incumbent of the Blaise Pascal International Chair of Research at the Ecole Normale Superieure.

The simulations show that the observations reported in Science are a predictable consequence of the violent collision and merger of the spiral galaxies that lead to the formation of the elliptical galaxies.

Evidence for dark matter halos around spiral galaxies comes from studying the circular motions of stars in these galaxies. Because most of the visible mass in a galaxy is concentrated in the central region, stars at great distances from the center would be expected to move more slowly than stars closer in. Instead, observations of spiral galaxies show that the rotational speed of stars in the outskirts of the disk remains constant as far out as astronomers can measure it.

The reason for this, according to the dark matter theory, is the presence of an enormous halo of unseen dark matter in and around the galaxy, which exerts its gravitational influence on the stars. Additional support for dark matter halos has come from a variety of other observations.

In elliptical galaxies, however, it has been difficult to study the motions of stars at great distances from the center. The scientists writing in Science found a decrease in the velocities with increasing distance from the center of the galaxy, which is inconsistent with simple models of the gravitational effects of dark matter halos.

Part of the explanation for that phenomenon, put forth in the new Nature paper, lies in the fact that the velocities in the earlier study were measured along the line of sight. "You cannot measure the absolute speeds of the stars, but you can measure their relative speeds along the line of sight, because if a star is moving toward us its light is shifted to shorter wave lengths, and if it is moving away from us its light is shifted to longer wave lengths," Primack explained.

This limitation would not be a problem if the orbits of the observed stars were randomly oriented with respect to the line of sight, According to Cox’s simulations, however, the stars in elliptical galaxies that are farthest from the center are likely to be moving in elongated, eccentric orbits such that most of their motion is perpendicular to the line of sight. Therefore, they could be moving at high velocities without exhibiting much motion toward or away from the observers.

Why this is so is traceable to the processes whereby disk galaxies merge to form elliptical galaxies. "In the merger process that produces these galaxies, a lot of the stars get flung out to fairly large distances, and they end up in highly elongated orbits that take them far away and then back in close to the center," explained Dekel.

"If we see a star at a large distance from the center of the galaxy, that star is going to be mostly moving either away from the center or back toward the center. Almost certainly, most of its motion is perpendicular to our line of sight," Dekel said. Under such circumstances, the star would appear to be moving quite slowly, when in fact this is not the case, based upon the models of simulated galaxy mergers studied by the Hebrew University-UCSC-Paris team.

"Our conclusion is that what the cosmologists described in 2003 is exactly what the dark matter model would predict," he said, “Our findings remove a problem which bothered them and make it possible to better understand the processes involved in creation of new galaxies in the universe.”

Jerry Barach | alfa
Further information:
http://www.huji.ac.il

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA laser communications to provide Orion faster connections
30.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pinball at the atomic level
30.03.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>