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Testing Newtonian Gravity

  1. Oct 8, 2010 #1
    Has anyone here looked at this paper?

    Testing Newtonian gravity with distant globular clusters: NGC1851 and NGC1904
    R. Scarpa, G. Marconi, G. Carraro, R. Falomo, S. Villanova


    (Submitted on 20 Aug 2010)
    Globular clusters are useful to test the validity of Newtonian dynamics in the low acceleration regime typical of galaxies, without the complications of non-baryonic dark matter. Specifically, in absence of disturbing effects, e.g. tidal heating, their velocity dispersion is expected to vanish at large radii. If such behaviour is not observed, and in particular if, as observed in elliptical galaxies, the dispersion is found constant at large radii below a certain threshold acceleration, this might indicate a break down of Newtonian dynamics.

    To minimise the effects of tidal heating in this paper we study the velocity dispersion profile of two distant globular clusters, NGC 1851 and NGC 1904.

    The velocity dispersion profile is derived from accurate radial velocities measurements, obtained at the ESO 8m VLT telescope. Reliable data for 184 and 146 bona fide cluster star members, respectively for NGC 1851 and NGC 1904, were obtained.

    These data allow to trace the velocity dispersion profile up to ~2r0, where r0 is the radius at which the cluster internal acceleration of gravity is a0 = 10e-8 cm/s/s. It is found that in both clusters the velocity dispersion becomes constant beyond ~r0. These new results are fully in agreement with those found for other five globular clusters previously investigated as part of this project. Taken all together, these 7 clusters support the claim that the velocity dispersion is constant beyond r0, irrespectively of the specific physical properties of the clusters: mass, size, dynamical history, and distance from the Milky Way. The strong similarly with the constant velocity dispersion observed in elliptical galaxies beyond r0 is suggestive of a common origin for this phenomenon in the two class of objects, and might indicate a breakdown of Newtonian dynamics below a0.

    Comments: Accepted for publication by A&A main journal. 12 pages, 12 figures
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2010 #2
    Nice. So called dark matter finally started to disappear. I can live more easily with yet another breakdown (space, velocity and now acceleration). At least there is some kind of pattern. Do any quantum gravity theory predict such thing?
  4. Oct 8, 2010 #3
    Why are globular clusters known to contain negligible amounts of dark matter(last sentence of page 1)? Is this considered to be common knowledge these days?

    I am not well versed in recent literature on this topic. The inclusion of this single sentence completely changes the nature of their argument to me. The observation of any flattening of the VDP then seems to be strong evidence against dark matter. But my common sense says that the confidence in this statement must not be that high.

    The discussion of a0 is interesting, but is that really the main point of the paper? It seems to me that the more important point may be that, before this paper, there had been little measurement of the VDP for clusters for which tidal heating can be considered negligible. Of course I don't know this without surveying the literature.

    This is convincing evidence that the flattening of the VDP in globular clusters is not predominantly due to tidal heating. The fact that the flattening occurs at a0 seems like a secondary result to me.

    Can anyone help me here?
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  5. Oct 8, 2010 #4
    Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_matter" [Broken] says:

    The reference at [17] is:


    but unfortunately, its behind a paywall and I couldn't find a free version anywhere with a quick search.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Oct 8, 2010 #5
    Hmm I can't find that paper in any of the databases available to me. Judging from the abstract however, it does not seem to be a satisfactory reference for a statement of that magnitude.
  7. Oct 8, 2010 #6
    Well after some searching I am still very confused by this. I haven't found any papers which support that statement.
  8. Oct 8, 2010 #7
  9. Oct 8, 2010 #8

    Is this then very compelling evidence for something other than dark matter? I assume there are some doubts or this would have been big news.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  10. Oct 9, 2010 #9
    Unless observed flattening at a0 is a big coincidence. If it is not coincidence then the dark mater should be renamed to "dark spooky matter". The dark spooky matter apparently knows how to place itself, so it will cause flattening at a0 in each case. Well, it is possible answer, but I don't find it very plausible.
  11. Oct 9, 2010 #10
    I gather that 'velocity dispersion' means the difference between the most positive and the most negative velocities at any given radius from the center.
  12. Oct 9, 2010 #11
    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velocity_dispersion" [Broken]:
    The velocity dispersion profile relates this velocity dispersion to the radius and often fits a curve to the data. So it is the addition of the word "profile" that refers to the relation of the velocity dispersion to the radius.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  13. Oct 9, 2010 #12
    That's what I'd like to know as well. I was hoping that someone here who follows dark matter and cosmological-level gravity more closely would know of this paper and any responses. Perhaps they still will respond.

    I have been unable to find any non-paid primary source papers in my searches that address the issue of dark matter and globular clusters so far.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2010
  14. Oct 9, 2010 #13
    This is not the source of the question, you did not follow my argument carefully. Please read the quoted portion in my previous post.
  15. Oct 10, 2010 #14
  16. Oct 11, 2010 #15
    Is this not an interesting question? Someone must be able to explain the gap in my understanding, or this should be a big deal.
  17. Oct 11, 2010 #16
    well bigger stars sink to the cores of globular clusters and
    lighter stars rise to the outer parts.

    So if dark matter is only found in the outer parts of the cluster then...
  18. Oct 11, 2010 #17
    What are you trying to say? Can you please use complete sentences and proper punctuation? What is your conclusion?

    If dark matter is known to not cause the flattening of the velocity profile in globular clusters, and the other posited cause, tidal heating, has also been ruled out, then does this not have serious implications? Does this not bring the whole idea of dark matter very seriously into question, and call for a serious consideration of other ideas such as flaws in our understanding of Newtonian gravity?
  19. Oct 11, 2010 #18
    I'm sorry.
    And here I thought I was being helpful.
    I'll try not to do it again.
  20. Oct 11, 2010 #19
    I found this old paper from 1995:

    Dark Matter in Globular Clusters
    Authors: Heggie, D. C. & Hut, P.


    It seemed relevant but was inconclusive. They found an upper bound on dark matter at 50% but they said the other unaccounted for mass might be entirely white dwarfs and smaller stars.

    I'm also going to ask this question on BAUT.
  21. Oct 11, 2010 #20
    A suggestion on BAUT was to look at papers by Lane.

    There are some interesting papers at that link. It seems Lane draws different conclusions and says that you can explain the dynamics without dark matter. He also seems to be of the opinion that there is little dark matter present in globular clusters so it appears that Scarpa's comment that even strong supporters of dark matter don't dispute that point is probably true.
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