Scientists discover galaxy that appears to lack dark matter

Scientists are baffled by a recently discovered galaxy that is about the same size as our own Milky Way galaxy. The galaxy that is forcing scientists and astrophysicists to ask new questions is called NGC1052-DF2. What has scientists so curious about this galaxy is that it is unusually transparent and appears to contain no dark matter.

Scientists currently think that dark matter is essential to the fabric of the universe. If NGC1052-DF2 turns out to have no dark matter, it would be the first galaxy of its kind ever discovered. NGC1052-DF2 was discovered while scientists were searching for large, ultra-diffuse galaxies to study. Galaxies of that sort are similar in size to the spiral galaxies we are familiar with but have only a fraction of the number of stars spiral galaxies support.

NGC1052-DF2 was first spotted by Professor Pieter van Dokkum, lead author of the study published in Nature. The galaxy was found to have very few stars with many of them grouped together in unusually bright clusters. Further study of those clusters found that the stars appear to account for the entire mass of the galaxy.

Scientists say that there is about five times the amount of dark matter in a galaxy than regular matter. The greater mass of dark matter is believed to hold the gas together as the galaxy forms. The fact that this galaxy is thought to lack dark matter means the galaxy would have to form in a different way.

Van Dokkum believes that this galaxy has a potential to prove that dark matter is real. Scientists have yet to be able to directly observe dark matter. The scientist says that if dark matter is a real substance that it can be present or not separately from regular matter in the universe. The team plans to publish another research paper looking at the bright star clusters that could shed more light on the mystery of NGC1052-DF2.