ESA's Gaia spots a 'ghost' galaxy next to Milky Way

View of the Milky Way Galaxy with the Large Magellanic Cloud bottom-right and the Antilla 2 galaxy top-left

"Normally, as galaxies lose mass to the Milky Way's tides, they shrink, not grow".

The counter-rotating structure of the S1 will increase the amount of dark matter producing a tell-tale ring-like structure around the wind and tech like the multinational CYGNUS collaboration could detect this in the future without difficulties. Because things with mass are what glue galaxies together - thanks, gravity! - dark matter is probably what's holding most of the stuff in the universe together.

The dwarf galaxy was hiding behind the far side of the disk of the Milky Way, obstructed from view.

According to the University of Cambridge, if it is impossible for the dwarf galaxy to have grown as the Milky Way stripped its mass away, then Ant 2 must have been truly enormous. These stars are old and metal-poor, typical of those found in dwarf galaxies. Like many other dwarf galaxies, Ant 2 - quite old, and most of its stars are old, small and with a low metallicity (content of elements heavier than helium). Yet it's 10,000 times fainter than the LMC.

"This is a ghost of a galaxy", said Gabriel Torrealba, lead author of the paper describing the discovery, which was published on November 9.

The Ant 2 "ghost" galaxy is a large, dim dwarf galaxy that scientists have discovered near the edge of the Milky Way.

Gaia is on a mission to create the richest star catalog ever made with high precision measurements of nearly 1.7 billion stars. Prior this year, Gaia's second information discharge made new points of interest of stars in the Milky Way accessible to researchers around the world. Among them, researchers from Australia, Germany, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the USA, who used RR Lyrae stars to search for Milky Way satellites. The researchers believe that the dwarf galaxy has so little mass because of the constant pull of the galactic tides of the Milky Way. These stars change their luminosity after every half day period, these changes in brightness variations helped in finding them in the vast cosmos.

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Using the Anglo-Australian Telescope, the team was able to measure the spectra of about 100 red giant stars. "What remains unexplained, however, is the object's giant size".

The best explanation, according to the astronomers, is that Antlia 2 was simply born huge. The team has yet to figure out the exact process that made Ant 2 so extended. In addition, now the milky Way absorbs dwarf elliptical galaxy with a diameter of about 10 thousand light years.

But given the lack of density within Ant 2, it suggests another dark matter particle which does not cluster may be needed.

The team thinks that the discovery of Antlia 2 could make scientists rethink of the properties of dark matter.

Researchers said that detectors now available to scientists are unlikely to pick up S1's weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs), hypothetical objects that some scientists believe make up dark matter. "We are wondering whether this galaxy is just the tip of an iceberg".

The gap between Ant 2 and the rest of the Galactic dwarfs is so wide that this may well be an indication that some important physics is missing in the models of dwarf galaxy formation.

In March, a separate team of astronomers found the galaxy NGC 1052-DF2 that is missing most of its dark matter that challenges currently-accepted theories of galaxy formation and seeks scientists to re-look at the nature of planet formation as well as the studies on the dark matter.

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