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Galaxy Formation Theories are Undermined by Dwarf Galaxies

Jun 11, 2014 04:13 PM EDT
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Experts are arguing that the current understanding of galaxy formation is flawed, pointing out that dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way simply do not fit into commonly accepted equations.
(Photo : ESA/Hubble & NASA/N. Sulzenauer)

Experts are arguing that the current understanding of galaxy formation is flawed, pointing out that dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way simply do not fit into commonly accepted equations.

According to a study to be published in a future issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the very existence of dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies defies what researcher believe they know about galaxy formation, acting quite differently than how the popular model predicts.

"The model predicts that dwarf galaxies should form inside of small clumps of dark matter and that these clumps should be distributed randomly about their parent galaxy," co-author David Merrit of the Rochester Institute of Technology explained in a recent release.

"What is observed is very different," he adds. "The dwarf galaxies belonging to the Milky Way and Andromeda are seen to be orbiting in huge, thin disk-like structures."

Three past studies have defended the commonly accpeted model of universe formation, showing in various calculations that structures similar to the orbiting dwarf galaxies are possible given specific conditions.

However, Merrit and his colleagues argue that these studies have "serious issues" with their calculations, arguing that the resulting structures would look nothing like the remarkably flat and disk-like dwarf galaxies that astronomers observe.

"Features like the observed planar structures are very rare," Merrit explains, going on to say that current calculations based around accepted galaxy formation models cannot explain this rare phenomena.

If the modern galaxy formation theory were right, these dwarf galaxies simply wouldn't exist.

Merrick and study lead Marcel Pawlowski consider themselves part of a small-but-growing group of experts questioning the wisdom of current astronomical models.

"When you have a clear contradiction like this, you ought to focus on it," Merritt said. "This is how progress in science is made."

The researcher's argument and observations will be detailed in full in a future issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. You can view a preprint of the paper here.

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