Invisible ‘galactic clump’ of dark matter with a mass of 10 million suns disappears nearby stars, scientists say
- V-cluster of stars known as the Hyades is ‘torn apart by gravity’
- Scientists from the European Space Agency say the culprit is a lump of dark matter
- The cluster can be seen with the naked eye on the head of the constellation Taurus
Scientists believe that the star cluster closest to the sun is being torn apart by an enormous invisible mass.
Researchers say the area known as the Hyades, a V-shaped cluster of stars forming the head of the constellation Taurus, is being torn apart by gravity.
The cluster is about 700 million years old and is located 153 light years from Earth at a distance of about 60 light years.
But the team says it used to have thousands of stars that mysteriously disappeared.
Scientists say the Hyades star cluster has collided with an invisible object ten million times bigger than the sun
They believe that hundreds of millions of years ago, the cluster encountered a massive invisible structure measuring roughly 10 million times the mass of the sun that went to work to tear it apart.
One possible explanation is that it was a dark matter halo, an invisible cloud of particles believed to be the remnants of the Milky Way’s formation.
The work was published earlier this week in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Scientists led by research associate Tereza Jerabkova from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory made the discovery while investigating the Hyades cluster using data collected by ESA’s Gaia satellite.
Tereza said, “There must have been a close interaction with this truly vast mass, and the Hyades just smashed to pieces.
‘With Gaia, the way we see the Milky Way has completely changed. And with these discoveries, we can map the Milky Way’s substructures much better than ever before. ‘
Star clusters naturally lose stars because they pull together under gravity, changing their speed and moving some to the clusters’ edges.
They can be swept away by the gravity of the galaxy, forming two long tails known as tide tails.
Researchers say the area known as the Hyades, a V-shaped cluster of stars forming the head of the constellation Taurus, is being torn apart by gravity
Vice Tereza reported: “We see that stars belonging to the closest cluster move in a way that they shouldn’t move using our well-known and widely used models.
Either these models are wrong and this would have major implications for physics, or the movements through a chunk of dark matter change, and this would also be an important discovery.
“This is the amazing thing about the data from the Gaia satellite – for the first time in history we have the opportunity to search for stellar structures hiding in the vast array of field stars in the Milky Way.”
But she ruled out that our sun had a similar encounter with an invisible monster black hole, adding that it is “essentially impossible.”