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Map of Milky Way halo reveals dark matter ocean

5 May 2021, 12:00 UTC
Map of Milky Way halo reveals dark matter ocean
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Astronomers observed distant stars in the faint halo surrounding our Milky Way galaxy and have now created a map of the halo, the first of its kind of these outermost parts of our galaxy. These new observations, the astronomers said in April 2021, show how the Large Magellanic Cloud – one of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies – has created a wake, like a ship sailing through calm waters, as it travels through the Milky Way’s halo. The wake shows up as a distinct bright pathway of stars on the map, telling us that the Magellanic Clouds are still traveling in their very first orbit around the Milky Way galaxy. And the wake itself may be made up of dark matter, dragging the stars along with it!
The discovery was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature on April 21.
There are many interesting things about galactic haloes. They are faint and hard to observe, extend to large distances out from their galaxies and are – apart from a few stars, gas and dust – thought to contain a large amount of dark matter. Dark matter is called “dark” not only because we know little about it, but because ...

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