Dark galaxy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

A dark galaxy is a gas-rich galaxy from the early Universe that is inefficient at forming stars. Dark galaxies receive their name because they have no visible stars.<ref="definition>"First evidence of dark galaxies from the early Universe spotted". Zmescience.com. 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2012-08-13. </ref>

Observational evidence[edit]

Astronomers first suspected that there was an invisible dark galaxy upon observing galaxy NGC 4254. This unusual-looking galaxy appears to be one partner in a cosmic collision. The only evidence is the following: gas is being siphoned away into a tenuous stream, and one of its spiral arms is being stretched out. The other partner in this collision is nowhere to be seen. The researchers calculated that an object with a mass of 1011 M made close passage with NGC 4254 within the last 100 million years creating the gas stream and tearing at one of its arms. This was the clue that a dark galaxy might be nearby.[citation needed]

Nature of dark galaxy[edit]


In 2000, astronomers found gas cloud VIRGOHI21 and attempted to determine what it was and why it caused such a gravitational pull from galaxy NGC 4254. After years of running out of other explanations, some have concluded that VIRGOHI21 is a dark galaxy, due to the massive effect it had on NGC 4254.[1]


The actual size of dark galaxies is unknown because they cannot be observed with normal telescopes. There have been various estimations, ranging from double the size of the Milky Way[2] to the size of a small quasar.


Dark galaxies are composed of dark matter. Furthermore, dark galaxies are theoretically composed of hydrogen and dust.[1] Some scientists support the idea that dark galaxies may contain stars.[3] Yet the exact composition of dark galaxies is unknown because there is no conclusive way to spot them so far. However, astronomers estimate that the mass of the gas in these galaxies is approximately 1 billion times that of the Sun.[4]

Methodology to observe dark bodies[edit]

Dark galaxies contain no visible stars, and are not visible using optical telescopes. The Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey (AGES) is a current study using the Arecibo radio telescope to search for dark galaxies, which are predicted to contain detectable amounts of neutral hydrogen. The Arecibo radio telescope is useful where others are not because of its ability to detect the emission from this neutral hydrogen, specifically the 21 cm line.[5]

Alternative theories[edit]

Scientists do not have much explanation for some astronomic events, so some use the idea of a dark galaxy to explain these events. Little is known about dark galaxies, and some scientists believe dark galaxy is actually a newly forming galaxy. One such candidate is in the Virgo cluster. This candidate contains very few stars. Scientists classify this galaxy as a newly forming galaxy, rather than a dark galaxy.[6] Recently, scientists have made some interesting discoveries. Scientists say that the galaxies we see today only began to create stars after dark galaxies. Based on numerous scientific assertions, dark galaxies played a big role in many of the galaxies astronomers and scientists see today. Martin Haehnel, from Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, claims that the precursor to the Milky Way galaxy was actually a much smaller bright galaxy that had merged with dark galaxies nearby to form the Milky Way we currently see. Multiple scientists agree that dark galaxies are building blocks of modern galaxies. Sebastian Cantalupo of the University of California, Santa Cruz, agrees with this theory. He goes on to say, "In our current theory of galaxy formation, we believe that big galaxies form from the merger of smaller galaxies. Dark galaxies bring to big galaxies a lot of gas, which then accelerates star formation in the bigger galaxies." Scientists have specific techniques they use to locate these dark galaxies. These techniques have the capability of teaching us more about other special events that occur in the universe; for instance, the “cosmic web”. This “web” is made of invisible filaments of gas and dark matter believed to permeate the universe, as well as “feeding and building galaxies and galaxy clusters where the filaments intersect.”[4]

Potential dark galaxies[edit]


Main article: HE0450-2958

HE0450-2958 is an unusual quasar (a star like object that may send out radio waves and other forms of energy). This one in particular has many large red shifts.[7] HE0450-2958 has no visible host galaxy (a galaxy surrounding the quasar) detected around it. It has been suggested that this may be a dark galaxy in which a quasar has become active. However subsequent observations revealed that a normal host galaxy is probably present. [8]

HVC 127-41-330[edit]

Main article: HVC 127-41-330

HVC 127-41-330 is a cloud rotating at high speed between the Andromeda and the Triangulum Galaxy. Astronomer Josh Simon considers this cloud to be a dark galaxy because of the speed of its rotation and its predicted mass.[9][10]

Smith's Cloud[edit]

Main article: Smith's Cloud

Smith's Cloud is a candidate to be a dark galaxy, due to its projected mass and survival of encounters with the Milky Way.[11]


Main article: VIRGOHI21

The discovery of VIRGOHI21 was announced in February 2005, and it was the first good candidate to be a true dark galaxy.[12][3][13][14] It was found when AGES was looking for the 21 cm-wavelength radio waves emitted by hydrogen (H). Its dynamics are apparently inconsistent with the predictions of the Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) theory.[15] Some researchers have since discounted the possibility of VIRGOHI21 being a dark galaxy and believe it is more likely a "tidal tail"[16] of nearby galaxy NGC 4254, which is experiencing gravitational perturbations as it enters the Virgo cluster.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fraser Cain (2007-06-14). "No Stars Shine in This Dark Galaxy". Universetoday.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  2. ^ "Arecibo Survey Produces Dark Galaxy Candidate". Spacedaily.com. 2006-04-07. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  3. ^ a b Stuart Clark. "Dark galaxy' continues to puzzle astronomers". New Scientist. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  4. ^ a b "First Direct Detection Sheds Light On Dark Galaxies". Zmescience.com. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  5. ^ in Astronomy (2009-12-23). "Invisible Dark-Matter Galaxy has Ten Billion Xs the Mass of the Sun". Dailygalaxy.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  6. ^ "Drexler's Dark Matter Prediction Confirmation Followed His New Book". Newsblaze.com. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  7. ^ Magain P. et al. (2005). "Discovery of a bright quasar without a massive host galaxy". Nature 437 (7057): 381–4. arXiv:astro-ph/0509433. Bibcode:2005Natur.437..381M. doi:10.1038/nature04013. PMID 16163349. 
  8. ^ Merritt, David et al. (2006). "The nature of the HE0450-2958 system". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 367 (4): 1746. arXiv:astro-ph/0511315. Bibcode:2006MNRAS.367.1746M. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2006.10093.x. 
  9. ^ Josh Simon (2005). "Dark Matter in Dwarf Galaxies: Observational Tests of the Cold Dark Matter Paradigm on Small Scales" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-13. 
  10. ^ Battersby, Stephen (2003-10-20). "Astronomers find first 'dark galaxy'". New Scientist. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Dark galaxy crashing into the Milky Way" (2735). New Scientist. 22 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  12. ^ Clark, Stuart (2005-02-23). "Astronomers claim first 'dark galaxy' find". NewScientist.com news service. Retrieved 2006-10-26. 
  13. ^ Shiga, David (2005-02-26). "Ghostly Galaxy: Massive, dark cloud intrigues scientists". Science News Online (Society for Science &#38) 167 (9): 131. doi:10.2307/4015891. JSTOR 4015891. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  14. ^ Britt, Roy (2005-02-23). "First Invisible Galaxy Discovered in Cosmology Breakthrough". Space.com. 
  15. ^ Funkhouser, Scott (2005). "Testing MOND with VirgoHI21". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 364: 237. arXiv:astro-ph/0503104. Bibcode:2005MNRAS.364..237F. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2005.09565.x. 
  16. ^ Haynes, Martha P.; Giovanelli, Riccardo; Kent, Brian R. (2007). "NGC 4254: An Act of Harassment Uncovered by the Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA Survey". Astrophysical Journal 665 (1): L19–22. arXiv:0707.0113. Bibcode:2007ApJ...665L..19H. doi:10.1086/521188. 

External links[edit]