An analysis of astronomical observational data, conducted by researchers from the European Space Agency, showed that the closest star cluster to our solar system is experiencing a rupture under the influence of the gravitational pull of an unknown massive object.
According to a statement by the agency, what is happening inside the "Hyades" stellar group, if proven, provides evidence of the effect of invisible dark matter on objects and nearby constellations.
Disturbance in the head of the bull
The Hyades group, along with the Big Dipper, is the closest open star cluster, located about 153 light-years from the sun.
It can be seen easily in the constellation Taurus of the northern and southern hemispheres in the form of a "V" of bright stars, which indicates the head of the Taurus.
The cluster contains about 350 stars, moving at a speed of about 32 kilometers per second.
In the new study, researchers at the European Space Agency, while searching for how a nearby star group fused into the general background of stars in our galaxy, discovered that the constellations are experiencing a remarkable turbulence due to the gravitational effect of an invisible massive physical structure in our galaxy.
The results of the study were recently published in the scientific journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
The researchers believe that this discovery provides evidence for the effect of the halo of dark matter (subhalos), which are supposed invisible clouds that envelop the galactic disk and extend beyond its visible boundaries, formed after the creation of the Milky Way, and is currently spreading across it forming a transparent infrastructure that exerts a great gravitational influence in Orbs drifting close to them.
The researchers expect that the group will gradually lose its stars due to the attraction of dark matter, as the star trapped in its gravity introduces disturbance to the rest of the stars that change their paths towards the edges of the group.
From there, these stars could be captured by the gravitational pull of the galaxy, forming two long tails.
These tails are known as gravitational tidal tails, and one of them follows a star cluster, while the second moves outward, and scientists have not previously discovered them in nearby star clusters.
To discover tidal tails, scientists have identified stars that move in the sky similar to a star cluster.
Thanks to the data of the satellite "Gaia" of the European Space Agency, scientists were able to measure the distance of more than a billion stars in our galaxy and calculate their movement accurately.
"These are the two most important quantities that we need to search for tidal tails in star clusters in the Milky Way," said Teresa Yrabkova, a researcher at the European Space Agency.
By using a computer model that simulates the various disturbances that occur in stars escaping from the cluster over hundreds of millions of years in space, scientists have been able to understand the range of orbits to look for.
After comparing the simulations with real data, the scientists identified thousands of stars that once belonged to the Hyades clusters, and today they extend thousands of light-years across the galaxy in two gigantic tidal tails.
The cluster is torn apart .. who did?
Scientists were surprised to notice that something was missing in the tidal tail, meaning that something more brutal was gradually tearing apart the star cluster.
After running the simulations again, the researchers showed that data could be reproduced if this tail collided with a cloud of matter containing about 10 million solar masses.
Simulation of the dark matter halo responsible for the rupture of the Hyades stellar group (Wikipedia)
But what could this mass be?
No gas cloud or other star cluster of this size has been detected in the vicinity of the cluster.
The researcher replies that "if a visual structure is not detected even in future targeted searches, it may be a sub-halo of dark matter."
Regarding the importance of this discovery, the lead author of the study adds that "the way we see the Milky Way has changed completely with the data of the moon (Gaia). Thanks to these discoveries, we will be able to map the sub-structures of the Milky Way galaxy much better than ever before."