Simulated map of missing satellite galaxies could answer dark matter puzzle

July 24, 2015

A ripple in the outskirts of the Milky Way--and a hunch--led Rochester Institute of Technology astrophysicist Sukanya Chakrabarti to a previously undetected dwarf galaxy hidden under a veil of dark matter. Now Chakrabarti is refining her technique to uncover dwarf galaxies and understand dark matter by simulating the evolutionary histories of galactic disks, rich in atomic hydrogen, and their satellite populations.

Chakrabarti's study on these overlapping regions found in spiral galaxies, like the Milky Way, is funded by a three-year $325,053 grant from the National Science Foundation. Her research seeks to solve an astrophysical conundrum dubbed "the missing satellites problem," in which theoretical simulations that predict an abundance of satellite galaxies are unsupported by observational data.

Earlier this year, Chakrabarti, assistant professor of physics in RIT's School of Physics and Astronomy, validated her prediction of a previously unseen satellite galaxy located close to the plane of the Milky Way. In her new study, Chakrabarti and Andy Lipnicky, a Ph.D. student in RIT's astrophysical sciences and technology program, will create the first "mock" map and catalogue of satellite populations from analyzing extended atomic hydrogen disks.

"We will produce models that are consistent with both the atomic hydrogen and stellar data of our galaxy, which displays large ripples in the outskirts, a prominent warp and vertical waves in the galactic disk," Chakrabarti said.

Chakrabarti's goal of gaining an understanding of the distribution of dark matter combines her method with gravitational lensing. She will analyze the ripples in the atomic hydrogen map and results from gravitational lensing--a technique that uses the bending of light to weigh distant galaxies and reconstruct the dark-matter background.

"Comparing and contrasting results from both methods might improve the statistics of detecting dark-matter dominated dwarf galaxies," Chakrabarti said.
-end-
Note: Sukanya Chakrabarti discussed her search on dark-matter dominated satellites in a recent TEDx talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9tel-ZCswM

Rochester Institute of Technology

Related Dark Matter Articles from Brightsurf:

Dark matter from the depths of the universe
Cataclysmic astrophysical events such as black hole mergers could release energy in unexpected forms.

Seeing dark matter in a new light
A small team of astronomers have found a new way to 'see' the elusive dark matter haloes that surround galaxies, with a new technique 10 times more precise than the previous-best method.

Holding up a mirror to a dark matter discrepancy
The universe's funhouse mirrors are revealing a difference between how dark matter behaves in theory and how it appears to act in reality.

Zooming in on dark matter
Cosmologists have zoomed in on the smallest clumps of dark matter in a virtual universe - which could help us to find the real thing in space.

Looking for dark matter with the universe's coldest material
A study in PRL reports on how researchers at ICFO have built a spinor BEC comagnetometer, an instrument for studying the axion, a hypothetical particle that may explain the mystery of dark matter.

Looking for dark matter
Dark matter is thought to exist as 'clumps' of tiny particles that pass through the earth, temporarily perturbing some fundamental constants.

New technique looks for dark matter traces in dark places
A new study by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, and the University of Michigan -- published today in the journal Science - concludes that a possible dark matter-related explanation for a mysterious light signature in space is largely ruled out.

Researchers look for dark matter close to home
Eighty-five percent of the universe is composed of dark matter, but we don't know what, exactly, it is.

Galaxy formation simulated without dark matter
For the first time, researchers from the universities of Bonn and Strasbourg have simulated the formation of galaxies in a universe without dark matter.

Taking the temperature of dark matter
Warm, cold, just right? Physicists at UC Davis are using gravitational lensing to take the temperature of dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up about a quarter of our universe.

Read More: Dark Matter News and Dark Matter Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.