Letter

A galaxy lacking dark matter

  • Nature volume 555, pages 629632 (29 March 2018)
  • doi:10.1038/nature25767
  • Download Citation
Received:
Accepted:
Published:

Abstract

Studies of galaxy surveys in the context of the cold dark matter paradigm have shown that the mass of the dark matter halo and the total stellar mass are coupled through a function that varies smoothly with mass. Their average ratio Mhalo/Mstars has a minimum of about 30 for galaxies with stellar masses near that of the Milky Way (approximately 5 × 1010 solar masses) and increases both towards lower masses and towards higher masses1,2. The scatter in this relation is not well known; it is generally thought to be less than a factor of two for massive galaxies but much larger for dwarf galaxies3,4. Here we report the radial velocities of ten luminous globular-cluster-like objects in the ultra-diffuse galaxy5 NGC1052–DF2, which has a stellar mass of approximately 2 × 108 solar masses. We infer that its velocity dispersion is less than 10.5 kilometres per second with 90 per cent confidence, and we determine from this that its total mass within a radius of 7.6 kiloparsecs is less than 3.4 × 108 solar masses. This implies that the ratio Mhalo/Mstars is of order unity (and consistent with zero), a factor of at least 400 lower than expected2. NGC1052–DF2 demonstrates that dark matter is not always coupled with baryonic matter on galactic scales.

  • Subscribe to Nature for full access:

    $199

    Subscribe

Additional access options:

Already a subscriber?  Log in  now or  Register  for online access.

References

  1. 1.

    et al. Constraints on the relationship between stellar mass and halo mass at low and high redshift. Astrophys. J. 710, 903–923 (2010)

  2. 2.

    , & The average star formation histories of galaxies in dark matter halos from z = 0–8. Astrophys. J. 770, 57 (2013)

  3. 3.

    et al. Satellite kinematics—III. Halo masses of central galaxies in SDSS. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 410, 210–226 (2011)

  4. 4.

    et al. Missing dark matter in dwarf galaxies? Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 460, 3610–3623 (2016)

  5. 5.

    et al. Forty-seven Milky Way-sized, extremely diffuse galaxies in the Coma cluster. Astrophys. J. 798, L45 (2015)

  6. 6.

    & Ultra-low surface brightness imaging with the Dragonfly telephoto array. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 126, 55–69 (2014)

  7. 7.

    , , & Dwarf galaxy candidates found on the SERC EJ sky survey. Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 145, 415–423 (2000)

  8. 8.

    et al. The Dragonfly Nearby Galaxies Survey. III. The luminosity function of the M101 group. Astrophys. J. 837, 136 (2017)

  9. 9.

    et al. The SBF survey of galaxy distances. IV. SBF magnitudes, colors, and distances. Astrophys. J. 546, 681–693 (2001)

  10. 10.

    , , , & A synthesis of data from fundamental plane and surface brightness fluctuation surveys. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 327, 1004–1020 (2001)

  11. 11.

    , , & Detailed structural decomposition of galaxy images. Astron. J. 124, 266–293 (2002)

  12. 12.

    et al. Extensive globular cluster systems associated with ultra diffuse galaxies in the Coma cluster. Astrophys. J. 844, L11 (2017)

  13. 13.

    & Resolved massive star clusters in the Milky Way and its satellites: brightness profiles and a catalog of fundamental parameters. Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 161, 304–360 (2005)

  14. 14.

    et al. An overmassive dark halo around an ultra-diffuse galaxy in the Virgo cluster. Astrophys. J. 819, L20 (2016)

  15. 15.

    The observed properties of dwarf galaxies in and around the Local Group. Astron. J. 144, 4 (2012)

  16. 16.

    , & The masses of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 406, 264–278 (2010)

  17. 17.

    et al. Accurate masses for dispersion-supported galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 406, 1220–1237 (2010)

  18. 18.

    et al. Missing mass in collisional debris from galaxies. Science 316, 1166 (2007)

  19. 19.

    et al. Tidal dwarf galaxies in cosmological simulations. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 474, 580–596 (2018)

  20. 20.

    , & Quasar outflows and the formation of dwarf galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 298, 577–582 (1998)

  21. 21.

    et al. Filamentary star formation in NGC 1275. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 444, 336–349 (2014)

  22. 22.

    , , & Cold filamentary accretion and the formation of metal poor globular clusters. Preprint at (2017)

  23. 23.

    , , & Minkowski’s object—a starburst triggered by a radio jet. Astrophys. J. 293, 83–93 (1985)

  24. 24.

    et al. A direct empirical proof of the existence of dark matter. Astrophys. J. 648, L109–L113 (2006)

  25. 25.

    A modification of the Newtonian dynamics as a possible alternative to the hidden mass hypothesis. Astrophys. J. 270, 365–370 (1983)

  26. 26.

    Emergent gravity and the dark universe. SciPost Phys. 2, 016 (2017)

  27. 27.

    The dark matter crisis: falsification of the current standard model of cosmology. Publ. Astron. Soc. Aust. 29, 395–433 (2012)

  28. 28.

    Dwarf spheroidals in MOND. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 387, 1481–1488 (2008)

  29. 29.

    , & A universal density profile from hierarchical clustering. Astrophys. J. 490, 493–508 (1997)

  30. 30.

    , , & Constraining the galaxy–halo connection over the last 13.3 Gyr: star formation histories, galaxy mergers and structural properties. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 470, 651–687 (2017)

  31. 31.

    , , & The Dragonfly Nearby Galaxies Survey. I. Substantial variation in the diffuse stellar halos around spiral galaxies. Astrophys. J. 830, 62 (2016)

  32. 32.

    et al. The Fourteenth Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey: first spectroscopic data from the extended Baryon Oscillation Sky Survey and from the second phase of the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment. Preprint available at (2017)

  33. 33.

    et al. The Planetary Nebula Spectrograph elliptical galaxy survey: the dark matter in NGC 4494. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 393, 329–353 (2009)

  34. 34.

    et al. The Gemini-North Multi-Object Spectrograph: Performance in imaging, long-slit, and multi-object spectroscopic modes. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 116, 425–440 (2004)

  35. 35.

    & SExtractor: Software for source extraction. Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. 117, 393–404 (1996)

  36. 36.

    Atlas de galaxias australes (Observatorio Astronomico, Cordoba, 1968)

  37. 37.

    . et al. in Instrument Design and Performance for Optical/Infrared Ground-based Telescopes, Proc. SPIE Vol. 4841 (eds . & ) 1657–1669 (SPIE, 2003)

  38. 38.

    et al. The Keck Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 107, 375 (1995)

  39. 39.

    et al. A high stellar velocity dispersion and ~100 globular clusters for the ultra-diffuse galaxy Dragonfly 44. Astrophys. J. 828, L6 (2016)

  40. 40.

    , , & emcee: The MCMC hammer. Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac. 125, 306–312 (2013)

  41. 41.

    , & The propagation of uncertainties in stellar population synthesis modeling. I. The relevance of uncertain aspects of stellar evolution and the initial mass function to the derived physical properties of galaxies. Astrophys. J. 699, 486–506 (2009)

  42. 42.

    , & A high stellar velocity dispersion for a compact massive galaxy at redshift z = 2.186. Nature 460, 717–719 (2009)

  43. 43.

    , & Measures of location and scale for velocities in clusters of galaxies—a robust approach. Astron. J. 100, 32–46 (1990)

  44. 44.

    et al. The Hubble Space Telescope Key Project on the extragalactic distance scale. XXVIII. Combining the constraints on the Hubble constant. Astrophys. J. 529, 786–794 (2000)

  45. 45.

    Globular cluster luminosity function as distance indicator. Astrophys. Space Sci. 341, 195–206 (2012)

  46. 46.

    et al. The Advanced Camera for Surveys Virgo Cluster Survey. V. Surface brightness fluctuation calibration for giant and dwarf early-type galaxies. Astrophys. J. 625, 121–129 (2005)

  47. 47.

    et al. Surface brightness fluctuations in the Hubble Space Telescope ACS/WFC F814W bandpass and an update on galaxy distances. Astrophys. J. 724, 657–668 (2010)

  48. 48.

    & Methods for determining the masses of spherical systems. I—Test particles around a point mass. Astrophys. J. 244, 805–819 (1981)

  49. 49.

    , & Hunting faint dwarf galaxies in the field using integrated light surveys. Preprint at (2017)

  50. 50.

    et al. Low metallicities and old ages for three ultra-diffuse galaxies in the Coma cluster. Preprint at (2017)

  51. 51.

    On the variation of the initial mass function. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 322, 231–246 (2001)

  52. 52.

    Optical discovery of intracluster matter on the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey—the star pile in A545. Astrophys. J. 330, L25–L28 (1988)

  53. 53.

    et al. Crazy heart: kinematics of the “star pile” in Abell 545. Astron. Astrophys. 528, A61 (2011)

  54. 54.

    et al. The Dragonfly Nearby Galaxies Survey. II. Ultra-diffuse galaxies near the elliptical galaxy NGC 5485. Astrophys. J. 833, 168 (2016)

  55. 55.

    et al. A kinematic study of the Andromeda dwarf spheroidal system. Astrophys. J. 768, 172 (2013)

  56. 56.

    et al. The SPLASH Survey: spectroscopy of 15 M31 dwarf spheroidal satellite galaxies. Astrophys. J. 752, 45 (2012)

  57. 57.

    , , & Evidence for two populations of Galactic globular clusters from the ratio of their half-mass to Jacobi radii. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 401, 1832–1838 (2010)

  58. 58.

    et al. The discovery of new galaxy members in the NGC 5044 and 1052 groups. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 352, 1121–1134 (2004)

  59. 59.

    & Star clusters in M31. VII. Global kinematics and metallicity subpopulations of the globular clusters. Astrophys. J. 824, 42 (2016)

  60. 60.

    Galactic Bulges, Proc. 153th Symp. International Astronomical Union (ed. & ) 243–262 (IAU, 1993)

  61. 61.

    The dynamics of luminous galaxies in isothermal halos. Astrophys. J. 436, 56–66 (1994)

Download references

Acknowledgements

A.J.R. was supported by National Science Foundation grant AST-1616710 and as a Research Corporation for Science Advancement Cottrell Scholar. Results are based on observations obtained with the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. We are grateful for the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain and wish to acknowledge its important cultural role within the indigenous Hawaiian community.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Astronomy Department, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA

    • Pieter van Dokkum
    • , Shany Danieli
    • , Yotam Cohen
    • , Allison Merritt
    •  & Lamiya Mowla
  2. Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany

    • Allison Merritt
  3. Department of Physics and Astronomy, San Jose State University, San Jose, California 95192, USA

    • Aaron J. Romanowsky
  4. University of California Observatories, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA

    • Aaron J. Romanowsky
    •  & Jean Brodie
  5. Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto, 50 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H4, Canada

    • Roberto Abraham
    • , Deborah Lokhorst
    •  & Jielai Zhang
  6. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Charlie Conroy
    •  & Ewan O’Sullivan

Authors

  1. Search for Pieter van Dokkum in:

  2. Search for Shany Danieli in:

  3. Search for Yotam Cohen in:

  4. Search for Allison Merritt in:

  5. Search for Aaron J. Romanowsky in:

  6. Search for Roberto Abraham in:

  7. Search for Jean Brodie in:

  8. Search for Charlie Conroy in:

  9. Search for Deborah Lokhorst in:

  10. Search for Lamiya Mowla in:

  11. Search for Ewan O’Sullivan in:

  12. Search for Jielai Zhang in:

Contributions

P.v.D. led the observations, data reduction and analysis, and wrote the manuscript. S.D. visually identified the galaxy in the Dragonfly data and created the model galaxies to determine the distance. Y.C. measured the structural parameters of the object. A.M. used an automated approach to verify the visual detections of low-surface-brightness galaxies in the Dragonfly data. J.Z. and A.M. reduced the Dragonfly data. E.O’S. provided the MMT image. All authors contributed to aspects of the analysis and to the writing of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pieter van Dokkum.

Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.