GRE Reading Comprehension

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Source: XDF

It is now established that the Milky Way is far more extended and of much greater mass than was hitherto thought. However, all that is visible of the constituents of the Milky Way's corona (outer edge), where much of the galaxy's mass must be located, is a tiny fraction of the corona's mass. Thus, most of the Milky Way's outlying matter must be dark.

Why? Three facts are salient. First, dwarf galaxies and globular clusters, into which most of the stars of the Milky Way's corona are probably bound, consist mainly of old stars. Second, old stars are not highly luminous. Third, no one has detected in the corona the clouds of gaseous matter such as hydrogen and carbon monoxide that are characteristic of the bright parts of a galaxy. At present, therefore, the best explanation—though still quite tentative—for the darkness of the corona is that the corona is composed mainly of old, burned-out stars.

Question List: 1 2

The passage as a whole is primarily concerned with

  • A analyzing a current debate
  • B criticizing a well-established theory
  • C showing how new facts support a previously dismissed hypothesis
  • D stating a conclusion and adducing evidence that may justify it
  • E contrasting two types of phenomena and showing how they are related

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