January 26, 2023

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Satellite galaxies are properly aligned in space. The dark matter theory has defended itself

Over the past decades, dozens of new satellite galaxies have been discovered orbiting the Milky Way. At the same time, something unexpected was noticed – instead of being evenly scattered in space, the satellite galaxies seemed to be arranged along a thin layer, roughly in the same plane as the Milky Way. Some astronomers believe that this was the result of erroneous observations, but later research seems to confirm this fact. The satellite galaxies are actually coplanar with the Milky Way, and most of them orbit it in the same direction. We already know what that means.

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A team of scientists from Durham University And the University of Helsinki showed that the surface of satellite galaxies is a cosmic phenomenon – it will change over time in the same way as the constellations. Details have been published in the journal natural astronomy.

However, its satellite galaxies aligned properly

The Milky Way’s satellite galaxies are arranged in a very thin plane and revolve around it coherently. We do not know of any physical process that would be responsible for such a distribution of galaxies in space. The researchers say that, according to current cosmic models, they should be arranged more or less parallel, in a bubble whose boundaries are defined by dark matter.

For 50 years, astronomers have been trying to recreate the observed state using supercomputer simulations. Unfortunately, none of the proposed models for the evolution of the universe – from the Big Bang to the present – has provided a satisfactory result. Some are even beginning to suspect the existence of cold dark matter, which should determine the formation of galaxies.

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Now, it’s used data collected by the Gaia probe, which measures the position and motion of about a billion stars in our galaxy (about 1 percent of the total) and their companion systems. Thanks to this, it was possible to create a model showing how the planes of galaxies were formed over several hundred million years (“moment” in astronomical terms).

Previous studies based on simulations were misleading by not taking into account the distance of satellite galaxies from the center of the Milky Way, which made the virtual satellite galaxy systems appear more round than the real ones. The simulations tracked many virtual galaxies that have galactic planes of satellite galaxies similar to those seen through telescopes. This confirms that the concept of dark matter is a cornerstone of our understanding of the universe.

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a. Carlos Frink of Durham University says:

The strange alignments of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies in the sky have puzzled astronomers for decades, so much so that they were thought to pose a profound challenge to cosmological orthodoxy. But thanks to Gaia’s amazing data and the laws of physics, we now know that the plane is just a random alignment, a matter of being in the right place at the right time, just like the constellations in the sky. We have removed one of the major challenges to cold dark matter theory. It still provides a very accurate description of the evolution of our universe.