Monday, June 25, 2007

Phantom Galaxy Baffles Astronomers

Scientists are puzzled by a galaxy-sized cloud of hydrogen that appears to be a still-born galaxy, according to a report at New Scientist. The latest research, "bolsters the idea that the gas cloud is the only known example of a 'dark galaxy' that never kick-started star birth."

One of the mysteries sparked by this discovery is it's surprising mass. According to astronomers, the ratio of baryonic (normal) to dark matter, "inferred by studying the rotation speed of the cloud," is unheard of at 100:1 to 500:1. "The well of material rotates too quickly to be explained by the observed amount of gas. Something else must serve as gravitational glue,"
explained a Space.com article on this discovery last year.

Some scientist theorize dark matter was the catalyst that created stars and galaxies. In one theory, dark matter in the early universe "condensed like water droplets on a spider web," and then attracted baryonic matter like hydrogen. Once the concentration of baryonic matter reached critical mass, a star was born.

Dark matter makes up about a quarter of the matter-energy in the universe. Baryonic accounts for just four percent. The rest is
dark energy (the stuff thought to explain why the Universe is expanding).

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.