What Happens if Dark Matter Goes Missing? NASA's Hubble Has the Answer

·2-min read

Dark matter makes up for the larger part of the universe and it basically refers to particles that do not absorb, reflect, or emit light. This is also why they cannot be detected by observing electromagnetic radiation.

We divide the particles in the universe to be either visible matter or dark matter. But what if the dark matter goes missing? No matter how weird this sounds but in 2018, scientists were left baffled when a neighbouring galaxy had no dark matter. The official Instagram handle of Hubble telescope shared the story on the platform recently describing how data from Hubble solved the mystery.

It is understood that dark matter is a crucial component for the evolution of galaxies but it was simply not there in the galaxy NGC 1052-DF4. A year later, another galaxy that misses dark matter was discovered, called the NGC 1052-DF4 and the scientists were left more puzzled than ever. Now, data collected by the Hubble telescope has revealed why the dark matter was missing.

Mireia Montes of the University of New South Wales in Australia led an international team of astronomers to study the galaxy using deep optical imaging. They found that the effects of tidal disruption can explain the missing dark matter. As per a report by NASA, “the gravity forces of the neighboring massive galaxy NGC 1035 are tearing NGC 1052-DF4 apart. During this process, the dark matter is removed, while the stars feel the effects of the interaction with another galaxy at a later stage”.

Hubble was used to study the galaxy’s light and the galaxy’s distribution of globular clusters to obtain the physical properties.

By studying the galaxy’s light, the astronomers came about to the evidence of tidal tails, which were formed due to material moving away from NGC 1052-DF4. As the dark matter is less concentrated than stars, it was stripped away from the galaxy and thus went missing.