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'Bullet' Galaxy Hints At Proof Of Dark Matter, Will Help To Answer Questions About Mass Of Distant Galaxies [PHOTO]

By Marisa Lewis | January 15, 2015 01:13 PM EST

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What is known as a "bullet galaxy" has recently pierced another group of galaxies in a cosmic collision some 1.4 billion light-years away. According to National Geographic, the galaxy blasted through another galaxy cluster called Abell 4067 at 814 miles (1,310 kilometers) per second.

After galaxies collide, a gassy trail is left behind. This is important, because scientists can use that data in order to determine how much the distant galaxies weigh. Past galaxy collisions have also left scientists with much more than that - in 2008, a collision offered proof that dark matter rings most galaxies.

National Geographic reports that after the bullet galaxy pierced through, it left a trail of hot gas. However, the unseen bulk of its mass - dark matter - continued on a separate trajectory.

The 2008 collision was extremely exciting for many scientists, especially Doug Clowe of the University of Arizona at Tuscon. He stated, "A universe that's dominated by dark stuff seems preposterous, so we wanted to test whether there were any basic flaws in our thinking. These results are direct proof that dark matter exists."

Clowe continued, "We've closed this loophole about gravity, and we've come closer than ever to seeing this invisible matter."

Now that there has been a more recent collision, scientists hope to further study how galaxies behave when they smash together. Our own galaxy is predicted to collide with the nearby Andromeda galaxy in roughly four billion years, meaning current research could be beneficial for future purposes.

 Furthermore, we will have closer look at the collision than ever before. Gayoung Chon of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, stated, "We have just been granted a seven-times-deeper XMM[-Newton] observation of this object, so we will have even more details on the merger physics."

Tagged :  Bullet Galaxy, Dark Matter, NASA

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