Globular clusters are large sphere-shaped congregations of stars which gradually lose their members to form long, thin stellar streams. In pristine conditions, these streams have a nearly uniform density; however, recent observations of such structures in the Milky Way have revealed disturbances that suggest a close encounter with a massive and dense perturber, quite likely a clump of dark matter. This discovery opens the exciting possibility that detailed observations of stellar streams could finally shed light on the elusive nature of dark matter – one of the hottest topics in astronomy today.

Ana Bonaca

Speaker Bio

Ana Bonaca, a Staff Scientist at Carnegie Science Observatories, is creating a 3D, high-resolution map of the Milky Way halo, which is dominated by dark matter. Her research employs data from ground- and space-based observatories, analyzes numerical simulations and develops new statistical tools. Prior to joining the Carnegie, Bonaca received her Ph.D. from Yale, and was a Fellow at the Institute for Theory and Computation at Harvard.