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Galaxy Movements Challenge Dark Matter Model

Galaxy Movements Challenge Dark Matter Model
Centaurus A. Photo courtesy of NASA.

A University of Texas at Austin astronomer has published a commentary in the journal Science noting that a new study on the movement of galaxies has the potential to either reinforce or change our understanding of how dark matter contributes to the motion of galaxies.

In a paper out Feb. 2 in Science, scientists from the University of California, Irvine and the Universität Basel in Switzerland observed the movement of satellite dwarf galaxies around the Centaurus A galaxy. They found that these smaller galaxies were orbiting in a planar configuration around the larger galaxy and the galaxies were orbiting in a coherent direction. This is contrary to most comparable galaxies in simulations and suggests something is wrong with the standard simulations and models.

Michael Boylan-Kolchin, assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy at UT Austin, writes in an accompanying perspective that this discovery has the potential to change our understanding of dark matter. The dark energy plus cold dark matter (ΛCDM) model is widely accepted and describes how dark matter is responsible for both the growth of cosmological structures and the motions of galaxies relative to the expansion of the universe.

"The results may lead to either a better understanding of galaxy formation within the ΛCDM model or a push to overthrow its underlying assumptions," Boylan-Kolchin writes.

Boylan-Kolchin has been widely quoted as news of the discovery hit science and mainstream media Friday.

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Monday, 22 October 2018

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