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The prominent galaxy NGC 4666 in the centre of the picture is a starburst galaxy, about 80 million light-years from Earth, in which particularly intense star formation is taking place. The starburst is thought to be caused by gravitational intera...
New evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory challenges an alternative theory of gravity that eliminates the need for dark matter. The observation also narrows the field for competing forms of dark matter, the elusive material thought to be the dominant form of matter in the universe. An observation of the galaxy NGC 720 shows it is enveloped in a slightly flattened, or ellipsoidal cloud of hot gas that has an orientation different from that of the optical image of the galaxy. The flattening is too large to be explained by theories in which stars and gas are assumed to contain most of the mass in the galaxy. "The shape and orientation of the hot gas cloud require it to be confined by an egg-shaped dark matter halo," said a researcher involved in the stoudy. "This means that dark matter is not just an illusion due to a shortcoming of the standard theory of gravity ? it is real."