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Astron. Astrophys. 328, L25-L28


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Letter to the Editor

Dark galaxies - the dominant population?

M.R.S. Hawkins

Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ, Scotland, UK

Received 31 July 1997 / Accepted 2 October 1997

Abstract

This paper argues that there is a large population of dark galaxies which reveals its presence by the gravitational lensing of quasars, and outnumbers normal galaxies by around 3:1. There are 8 double quasars with a separation greater than 2 arcseconds which have been classified as probable or certain gravitational lenses. Lensing galaxies have only been found for 2 of these systems, and analysis of the remainder has led in each case to the conclusion that they are best explained by the gravitational lensing effect of a 'dark galaxy'. Here we examine the ensemble properties of this sample and conclude that there is overwhelming evidence that the systems are indeed being gravitationally lensed by dark galaxies or perhaps dark matter galactic halos. The existence and nature of such objects raises some intriguing questions, as well as having profound implications for large scale structure. Several of the quasar systems show strong evidence for microlensing. It is argued that this implies a substantial component of dark matter in the form of compact bodies, either in the halo of the lensing galaxy or more generally along the line of sight.

Key words: galaxies: fundamental parameters - galaxies: statistics - dark matter - gravitational lensing


© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: November 24, 1997
Last change: March 26, 1998
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