Ultra diffuse galaxy

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NGC 1052-DF2, an ultra diffuse galaxy.

An ultra diffuse galaxy (UDG) is an extremely low luminosity galaxy, the first example of which was discovered in the nearby Virgo Cluster by Allan Sandage and Bruno Binggeli in 1984. UDGs are a subset of dwarf spheroidals and dwarf ellipticals and as such are a redundant name for an already well studied galaxy type.[1] Such a galaxy may have the same size and mass as the Milky Way but a visible star count of only 1%. Their lack of luminosity is due to the lack of star-forming gas in the galaxy. This results in old stellar populations.[2][3]

Some ultra diffuse galaxies found in the Coma Cluster, about 330 million light years from Earth, have diameters of 60 kly (18 kpc) with 1% of the stars of the Milky Way Galaxy.[4] The distribution of ultra diffuse galaxies in the Coma Cluster is the same as luminous galaxies; this suggests that the cluster environment strips the gas from the galaxies, while allowing them to populate the cluster the same as more luminous galaxies. The similar distribution in the higher tidal force zones suggests a larger dark matter fraction to hold the galaxies together under the higher stress.[2]

Dragonfly 44,[3] an ultra diffuse galaxy in the Coma Cluster, is one example. Observations of the rotational speed suggest a mass of about one trillion solar masses, about the same as the mass of the Milky Way. This is also consistent with about 90 globular clusters observed around Dragonfly 44. However, the galaxy emits only 1% of the light emitted by the Milky Way.[5] On 25 August 2016, astronomers reported that Dragonfly 44 may be made almost entirely of dark matter.[6][7][8] In 2018 the same authors reported[9] the discovery of a dark matter-free UDG (NGC 1052-DF2, which was already identified on photoplates by Igor Karachentsev[10]) based on velocity measurements of ~10 globular cluster system. The authors concluded that this may rule out modified gravity theories like MOND, but other theories such as the External Field Effect are also possibilities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Conselice, Christopher J. (March 2018). "Ultra-diffuse Galaxies Are a Subset of Cluster Dwarf Elliptical/Spheroidal Galaxies". Research Notes of the AAS. 2 (1): 43. arXiv:1803.06927. Bibcode:2018RNAAS...2a..43C. doi:10.3847/2515-5172/aab7f6. ISSN 2515-5172.
  2. ^ a b "Astronomers discover 854 ultra-dark galaxies in the famous Coma Cluster". Science Daily. 22 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Scientists discover the fluffiest galaxies". phys.org. 14 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Scientists at Keck Discover the Fluffiest Galaxies". Space Daily. 18 May 2015.
  5. ^ Crosswell, Ken (26 July 2016). "The Milky Way's dark twin revealed". Nature News. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  6. ^ Van Dokkum, Pieter; et al. (25 August 2016). "A High Stellar Velocity Dispersion and ~100 Globular Clusters For The Ultra-Diffuse Galaxy Dragonfly 44". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 828 (1): L6. arXiv:1606.06291. Bibcode:2016ApJ...828L...6V. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/828/1/L6.
  7. ^ Hall, Shannon (25 August 2016). "Ghost galaxy is 99.99 per cent dark matter with almost no stars". New Scientist. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  8. ^ Feltman, Rachael (26 August 2016). "A new class of galaxy has been discovered, one made almost entirely of dark matter". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  9. ^ van Dokkum et al. 2018, Nature volume 555, pages 629–632, "A galaxy lacking dark matter"
  10. ^ Karachentsev, I. D., Karachentseva, V. E., Suchkov, A. A. & Grebel, E. K. Dwarf galaxy candidates found on the SERC EJ sky survey. Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 145, 415–423 (2000).

Further reading[edit]

  • Michael A. Beasley; Aaron J. Romanowsky; Vincenzo Pota; Ignacio Martin Navarro; David Martinez Delgado; Fabian Neyer; Aaron Deich (1 February 2016). "An Overmassive Dark Halo around an Ultra-diffuse Galaxy in the Virgo Cluster". The Astrophysical Journal Letters (published 1 March 2016). 819 (2): L20. arXiv:1602.04002. Bibcode:2016arXiv160204002V. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/819/2/L20.
  • Pieter G. van Dokkum; Aaron J. Romanowsky; Roberto Abraham; Jean P. Brodie; Charlie Conroy; Marla Geha; Allison Merritt; Alexa Villaume; Jielai Zhang (6 February 2015). "Spectroscopic Confirmation of the Existence of Large, Diffuse Galaxies in the Coma Cluster". The Astrophysical Journal Letters (published 1 May 2015). 804 (1): L26. arXiv:1504.03320. Bibcode:2015ApJ...804L..26V. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/804/1/L26.
  • Koda, Jin; Yagi, Masafumi; Yamanoi, Hitomi; Komiyama, Yutaka (4 June 2015). "Approximately A Thousand Ultra Diffuse Galaxies in the Coma cluster". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 807 (1): L2. arXiv:1506.01712. Bibcode:2015ApJ...807L...2K. doi:10.1088/2041-8205/807/1/L2.