The outer reaches of the Milky Way galaxy are a different place. Stars are much harder to come by, with most of this “galactic halo” being made up of empty space. But scientists theorize that there is an abundance of one particular thing in this desolate area – dark matter. Now, a team from Harvard and the University of Arizona (UA) spent some time studying and modeling one of the galaxy’s nearest neighbors to try to tease out more information about that dark matter, and as a result came up with an all new way to look at the halo itself.
The neighbor they used is the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way made up of several billion stars. It is positioned such that it is floating around the outer reaches of the halo where it creates a “wake” through the Milky Way’s outer reaches, similar to how a boat creates a wake when it travels through water.
Video discussing how the LMC and other clusters can inform us about dark matter from UT contributor Paul Sutter.Credit: Paul M. Sutter YouTube Channel
Given the paucity of normal matter in the halo, the wake is made ...