They’ve discovered a giant galaxy ten times the size of our Milky Way, as well as the “tiniest” galaxy – so small we normally can’t see it, even though it’s in orbit around our own. UC Irvine investigators are probing the cosmos using a dazzling array of instruments, including Hawaii’s Keck telescope and the European Space Agency’s Herschel space telescope.
The researchers at the UCI Center for Cosmology share time on these machines with scientists all over the world, combing through the data they gather and publishing new discoveries previously hidden in the sea of light and radiation. Other insights come from precise computer simulations. Such simulations revealed, for instance, that the tiny galaxy in orbit around the Milky Way is likely one of many, all formed with the help of dark matter – and that such dwarf galaxies likely swarm around all galaxies the Milky Way’s size.
UCI researchers might even have glimpsed the dark side – a tell-tale pattern of gamma rays emanating from the heart of our galaxy that could be the signature of dark-matter particles, colliding and annihilating each other and emitting gamma rays in the process. That could provide clues about enigmatic dark matter, which dominates matter in the universe but has so far evaded scientists’ attempts to detect it directly.
The Thirty Meter Telescope at Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano will allow humanity to see deeper into the universe than ever before, and UCI research has played a crucial role in its design. UCI researchers will be using the Thirty Meter Telescope, named for its 30-meter primary mirror, to continue breakthroughs in dark matter, galaxies, stars and much more.