Deep inside the Coma constellation lurks a loose collection of dim stars that, at first, makes little sense.
Using some of the planet’s most powerful telescopes, astronomers decided to zoom-in on the galactic oddity called Dragonfly 44 to find it wasn’t one of your run-of-the-mill galaxies, it is in fact a galaxy rammed full of material we can’t see.
“Very soon after its discovery, we realized this galaxy had to be more than meets the eye. It has so few stars that it would quickly be ripped apart unless something was holding it together,” said astronomer Pieter van Dokkum, of Yale University and lead author of a new paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, van Dokkum and his team spent six nights clocking the speeds of the few stars that could be seen in the blob of galactic material. Then, using the Gemini North telescope, also on Hawaii, they spotted a halo of spherical clusters of stars around the galaxy’s core, much like the halo that surrounds our Milky Way’s core.