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Feb 4, 2022

Observing more disk galaxies than theory allows

Posted by in categories: cosmology, evolution, physics

The Standard Model of Cosmology describes how the universe came into being according to the view of most physicists. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now studied the evolution of galaxies within this model, finding considerable discrepancies with actual observations. The University of St. Andrews in Scotland and Charles University in the Czech Republic were also involved in the study. The results have now been published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Most galaxies visible from Earth resemble a flat disk with a thickened center. They are therefore similar to the sports equipment of a discus thrower. According to the Standard Model of Cosmology, however, such disks should form rather rarely. This is because in the , every galaxy is surrounded by a halo of dark matter. This halo is invisible, but exerts a strong gravitational pull on nearby galaxies due to its mass. “That’s why we keep seeing galaxies merging with each other in the model universe,” explains Prof. Dr. Pavel Kroupa of the Helmholtz Institute for Radiation and Nuclear Physics at the University of Bonn.

This crash has two effects, the physicist explains: “First, the galaxies penetrate in the process, destroying the disk shape. Second, it reduces the angular momentum of the new galaxy created by the merger.” Put simply, this greatly decreases its rotational speed. The rotating motion normally ensures that the centrifugal forces acting during this process cause a new disk to form. However, if the angular momentum is too small, a new disk will not form at all.

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