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Scientists found a galaxy of darkness: it may be a never-before-seen part of the cosmos

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
The dark galaxy was named J0613+52. Source: Illustrative photo

Astronomers have discovered a paradoxically dark galaxy that is filled with gas but has no visible stars. This rare and probably never-before-seen discovery could give scientists new insights into how stars and entire galaxies form.

The researchers made the discovery during a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The Big Think publication provided details.

The hollow object was named J0613+52. It is located at a distance of about 270 million light years from Earth. Astronomers noted that the object at least looks like a low-surface-brightness (LSB) galaxy.

LSBs are much less bright than other twinkling objects in the night sky. The reason for this darkness is that the gases containing such galaxies are so scattered that few stars form there. However, at least a few stars should form there.

Instead, the J0613+52 object looks as if there are no stars at all, making it rare and elusive. Scientists believe they have found a dark, primordial galaxy.

Karen O'Neil, a senior researcher at the Green Bank Observatory, said that this could be the first discovery of a "galaxy composed of primordial gas."

Interestingly, the scientists discovered such an unexpected finding due to a mistake made when studying the LSB. They realized that there was a discrepancy in the data between the two telescopes they were using and decided to double-check what they were looking at.

It turned out that "the telescope was accidentally pointed at the wrong coordinates, and this is how the object was found."

In addition to the apparent lack of stars, further investigation revealed that the galaxy is rich in gas, which is necessary for star formation. However, not only for that. The researchers believe that this galaxy contains between one and two billion solar masses of hydrogen and is extremely isolated.

O'Neil said that J0613+52 is too far away from other galaxies to contribute to star formation in it. According to her, this galaxy seems to be "both undisturbed and underdeveloped".

In effect, this means that over the billions of years of its existence, this dark galaxy has remained unprecedentedly stable, avoiding significant gravitational interactions that could lead to gas condensation and star formation, and without neighboring galaxies to disturb its perfect balance.

The scientists noted that this galaxy is an amazingly preserved relic of the early years of the cosmos and is so perfect that it almost defies understanding.

In the future, they intend to try to find heavy metals in this galaxy, which would indicate the presence of stars there. If none of them are found, this will be a strong evidence in favor of the fact that J0613+52 is a truly legendary dark galaxy that has not been previously discovered.

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