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Dark galaxies grow in abundance

Hundreds more shadowy, nearly starless suspects found in Coma cluster

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7:00am, June 24, 2015
dark galaxies

GALAXY QUEST  Eight dark galaxies (circled) are among more than 800 that lurk in a tiny part of the Coma cluster (pictured). The two circled in yellow were discovered in an earlier study.

Hundreds of shady characters are lurking in a nearby neighborhood of galaxies. The Coma cluster houses nearly 20 times as many dark galaxies as previously known, researchers report. These shadowy figures — some of which are as large as the Milky Way but with just one-thousandth the number of stars — could be dead ends in galactic evolution.

The cluster houses at least 854 of these barely perceptible galaxies, and there could be well over 1,000. These “ultradiffuse galaxies” appear to have had much of their star-forming gas stolen, Jin Koda, an astronomer at Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues report. The findings appear online June 24 in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Last year, another team of astronomers turned up 47 ultradiffuse galaxies in the Coma cluster (SN: 12/13/14, p. 9

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