Milky Way’s ‘Dwarf Galaxies’ Unviewable Due to Dark Matter – Until Now

January 14, 2011

(ChattahBox Science News)—Scientists have long wondered why more satellite galaxies are not orbiting the Milky Way, but one researcher think she may have the answer—and a way to find them. UC Berkeley’s Sukanya Chakrabarti says that additional, smaller galaxies are out there, but we just don’t see them because they are composed of dark matter, and she’s hoping to track them by using radio telescopes to note changes in the gas clouds around the Milky Way, the BBC reports.

Chakrabarti and her colleagues believe that a dark matter galaxy, when making its way through a gas cloud, would leave “ripples” in the dust that could tell scientists the location and size of that galaxy. The method would be similar to watching a boat’s wake in an ocean, the BBC reports.

Researchers have already used the method to find what appears to be a massive satellite galaxy 260,000 light years from the galaxy’s center, which they have dubbed “Galaxy X,” the BBC notes. Chakrabarti plans to use the Spitzer Space Telescope to attempt to confirm her findings, which will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.


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