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Scientists detect low mass, faint star

Last Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 15:19

London: The “dark matter” theory has received yet another blow as scientists have detected a very low mass, faint star in a star cluster for the first time.

‘Dark matter’ is a theoretical substance, which is undetectable by telescopes on earth, but thought by some scientists to account for up to three quarters of the mass of the whole universe.

The result means that the overall mass of such “globular clusters” could well be explained without having to resort to the dark matter theory.

The clusters could simply be made up of faint stars humans haven’t detected yet.

Until now, the overall mass of globular clusters, measured by their gravitational effects on nearby galaxies, could not be explained other than with dark matter, which has not yet been proven to exist.

Together with a Polish-Chilean team of researchers, Philippe Jetzer, a Swiss astrophysicist from the University of Zurich has now detected a low-mass star in globular cluster M22 for the first time.

The star was “seen” using a strange gravitational effect called microlensing.

Until now, it was merely assumed that low-mass and therefore extremely faint stars must exist, but even the most modern telescopes find them almost impossible to detect.

The measurements were carried out on the ESO VLT 8-meter telescope with adaptive optics at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.

“A significant proportion of globular clusters can now be explained through the presence of previously undetected, faint stars,” the Daily mail quoted Jetzer as saying.


First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 15:19

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