November 17, 2017
By Natalie Wolchover
New data tracking the movements of millions of Milky Way stars have effectively ruled out the presence of a “dark disk” that could have offered important clues to the mystery of dark matter.
A theoretical disk of dark matter rotating within the Milky Way Galaxy could explain phenomena from the distribution of nearby dwarf galaxies to periodic comet bombardments of Earth -- perhaps even leading to the extinction of the dinosaurs. But in November, Hertz Fellow Katharine Schutz was featured in Quanta Magazine for research that could lay the "dark disk" theory to rest. By analyzing star positions and velocities picked up from the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite, Schutz and her co-authors showed that, if any dark matter disk exists, it would be much more diffuse than needed to play the roles it has been theorized to play.
Read more at Quanta, or on Schutz's blog.