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Dark Matter Dominates Nearby Dwarf Galaxy, New Findings Say

First Posted: Nov 18, 2015 04:40 PM EST
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Researchers have found the highest concentration of dark matter ever located in a nearby dwarf galaxy called Triangulum II, which is located next to the Milky Way and composed of approximately 1,000 stars. This is the highest level of dark matter to be found in a single galaxy.

Evan Kirby, an assistant astronomy professor at Caltech, carried out the study. By measuring the velocity of six stars in Triangulum II, Kirby learned the gravitational force of the stars. This enabled him to measure the mass of Triangulum II, which allowed him to determine the levels of dark matter found in the dwarf galaxy.

"The total mass I measured was much, much greater than the mass of the total number of stars, implying that there's a ton of densely packed dark matter contributing to the total mass," Kirby said in a news release. "The ratio of dark matter to luminous matter is the highest of any galaxy we know."

Triangulum II could be used as a hypothesis to detect dark matter in other galaxies. Particles from dark matter called super symmetric WIMPs have a tendency of accumulating and colliding with each other, which then cause gamma rays. Triangulum II is not capable of forming stars, since it lacks gas and other types of star formation materials, causing astronomers to often refer to it as "dead."

Kirby is planning to take additional measurements to confirm the findings of another group of researchers, who carried out a similar experiment.

The findings of this study were published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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