Published on Aug 25, 2020

Galaxy Computer Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

Strange objects lurk in our weird Universe, hiding secretively in bewitching darkness, making themselves difficult to see. Dark galaxies are just such mysterious objects, that can hide themselves very well in our Universe’s most secretive places because they have no, or very few, stars to shed light on their shadowy, ghostly presence. However, they still may reveal themselves if they host large quantities of glaring gas. Indeed, since 2015, astronomers have managed to discover literally thousands of these very faint, phantom-like systems concealing themselves within and around several clusters of galaxies. How these strange systems are born remains a tantalizing puzzle to be solved. In November 2016, a team of researchers proposed that intense periods of star-birth, as well as blast waves created in the wake of supernova explosions, could be the culprits that made these dim galaxies switch off their stellar lights.

Not all galaxies are bright with the sparkling flames of a myriad of stars. Indeed, astronomers have recently observed many extremely faint, diffuse galaxies, with too few stars to light their magnificent galactic fires. However, how these faint galaxies came to be is not precisely known. They could be an entirely new and surprising type of galaxy that challenges current theories about how galaxies are born–or, alternatively, they might be galactic nonconformists that started out exactly like the ho-hum herd of galaxies we are familiar with, but experienced a sea-change as a result of being shaped by their environment into systems that travel to the beat of a different drum. Once astronomers reported their observations of the first collection of dark galaxies early in 2015 which–like footprints in the snow–pointed them in the direction of where to hunt, they started discovering dark galactic denizens in a large number of nearby galaxy clusters. In only a little over a year, astronomers went from knowing of none, to knowing of over a thousand of these strange beasts, inhabiting the galactic zoo.

The newly discovered treasure trove of dark galactic denizens of the Cosmos presents an intriguing mystery to be solved. Any galaxy as large as our own Milky Way should be able to readily give birth to a host of lovely stellar babies. However, it is still not known how massive the dark galaxies really are. Perhaps these ghostly systems are galactic failures–just as massive as our own Galaxy–that were mysteriously deprived of the ability to create lovely star-babies. Alternatively, the dark galaxies may be light-weights that have been stretched thin, like a blob of tugged-on taffy, by either external or internal events. In either case, with so few stars, dark galaxies must possess immense amounts of invisible matter in order to resist being ripped apart by the merciless gravity exerted by other nearby galaxies.


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