New Delhi | Jagran Trending Desk: An international team of astronomers have unveiled the mystery of the missing dark matter in galaxy NGC 1052-DF4, located about 45 million light years from Earth. Using data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the astronomers found that the gravitational forces from the giant, neighbouring galaxy NGC 1035 may have stripped the dark matter from NGC 1052-DF4.

The absence of dark matter in NGC 1052-DF4 had threatened our very understanding of how galaxies are formed. The new study solves this astronomical conundrum by suggesting that dark matter was present in NGC 1052-DF4 through and beyond its formation, but was evaporated through the effects of tidal disruption. 

"This discovery reconciles existing knowledge of how galaxies form and evolve with the most favourable cosmological model," said Mireia Mortes, who led an international team of astronomers to study the galaxy using deep optical imaging, as per a NASA statement. 

The astronomers used Hubble in two different ways to discover that NGC 1052-DF4 was experiencing an interaction: by studying galaxy's light and galaxy's distribution of globular clusters.

"Its is not enough just to spend a lot of time observing the object, but a careful treatment of the data is vital," explained team member Raul Infante-Sainz. "It was therefore important that we use not just one telescope/instrument, but several (both ground and space-based) to conduct this research. With the high resolution of Hubble, we can identify the globular clusters, and then GTV photometry we obtain the physical properties."

After the dark matter, the outer stellar component of the galaxy is now starting to suffer the disruption mechanism too. In time, the galaxy will be cannibalised by the large system around NGC 1035, with at least some of their starts floating free in deep space, explained team member Ignacio Trujillo.

Posted By: Lakshay Raja