The closest star cluster to the Sun may be getting destroyed to unveil a network of dark matter across the Milky Way

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The closest star cluster to the Sun may be getting destroyed to unveil a network of dark matter across the Milky Way
The Haydes star cluster, seen above, is the closest collection of stars to the SunESA
  • Stars within the cluster closest to the Sun have been disappearing.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) believes this may be due to the elusive dark matter subhalos.
  • Scientists believe these subhalos form to make an invisible network across the galaxy. This network expends gravitational influence on anything that dares to get too close.
The nearest star cluster to the Sun, dubbed Haydes, may be getting destroyed. And, it could be the key to tracking down evidence of ‘dark matter subhalos’, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Simply put, dark matter subhalos are invisible clouds of particles, which are thought to be relics from the formation of the Milky Way. Scientists believe these subhalos form to make an invisible network across the galaxy. This network expends gravitational influence on anything that dares to get too close.

To be clear, the existence of dark matter subhalos is only theoretical so far and have never been observed directly. Hence, Europe’s apex space agency is excited to finally have a trail that they can follow to unlock some of the mystery around dark matter.

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The closest star cluster to the Sun
Haydes star cluster is around 153 light years away from Earth. And, it can be spotted without the help of a telescope as a ‘V’ shape of bright stars in the night sky.

Star clusters lose their stars naturally because, within the cluster, the stars are pulling at each other’s gravity. The constant tugging changes the speed at which these stars are moving. Some end up at the centre, while others get pushed out to the edges of the cluster.


The others at the edge of the cluster are at risk of being swept away by the gravitational pull of the galaxy, forming two long tails called ‘tidal tails’. While one trail blazes in the front of the star cluster, the other one trail behind.
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Even though tidal tails are not as obscure a phenomenon as dark matter halos, they have never been seen this close to Earth. Most observations till now involve colliding galaxies.

ESA research fellow Tereza Jerabkova, who made the discovery, realised that the trailing tidal tail seemed to be missing stars. According to her, this was the hint that something much more ‘brutal’ was taking place in Haydes’ cosmic neighbourhood.

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