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Astrophysicists have discovered huge filaments of interstellar gas



Abell 3391/95 system optical image

Optical image of Abell 3391/95 system taken with DECam camera. Superimposed are the eROSITA image (darker = higher gas density) and radio profile (yellow) of the ASKAP telescope. Image source: Reiprich et al., “Astronomy and Astrophysics”

So far, more than half of the matter in our universe is still hidden from us. However, astronomers may have a foresight: in the so-called filaments, huge filamentous structures of hot gas surround and connect galaxies and galaxy clusters. Now, a team led by the University of Bonn has observed for the first time a gas filament with a length of 50 million light years. Its structure is surprisingly similar to computer simulation predictions. Therefore, observations also confirmed our ideas about the origin and evolution of the universe.The results are published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Our existence is due to tiny distortions. Exactly 13.8 billion years ago, Big explosion happened. This is the beginning of time and space, and the beginning of all the things that make up our universe today. Although initially concentrated at one point, it expands at an alarming rate-a huge cloud of gas in which matter is almost evenly distributed.

Almost, but not completely: In some parts, clouds are denser than others. For this reason alone, there are planets, stars and galaxies today. This is because the denser areas exert a slightly higher gravity, which attracts gas from the surrounding environment to the surroundings. Therefore, as time goes by, more and more substances are concentrated in these areas. However, the space between them becomes more and more empty. During the development process of 13 billion years, a sponge-like structure has been developed: a large “hole” without any matter, during which thousands of galaxies gather in a small space, the so-called galaxy cluster .

Abell 3391/95 system eROSITA X-ray image

Compared with the eROSITA X-ray image of the Abell 3391/95 system (right), the static image displayed by the simulation shows the distribution of heat (left). Image source: Reiprich et al., “Astronomy and Astrophysics”

Air wire mesh

If this happens, then galaxies and star clusters should still be connected by the remnants of this gas, like the tulle of a spider web. “According to calculations, more than half of all the heavy matter in the universe is contained in these filaments. This is a matter composed of stars and planets, just like ourselves,” Professor Thomas Reiprich explained Say. Argelander Institute of Astronomy, University of Bonn. So far, it has not caught our attention: due to the huge expansion of the filament, the substance in the filament is extremely diluted: it contains only ten particles per cubic meter, which is far below the best we can produce on earth Vacuum.

However, using a new measuring instrument, the eipita space telescope, Reiprich and his colleagues are now able to make the gas completely visible for the first time. Reiprich explained: “eROSITA has a very sensitive detector for detecting the type of X-ray radiation emitted by the gas in the filament.” “It also has a wide field of view-like a wide-angle lens, it can measure at a time with very high resolution. Capture a relatively large part of the sky.” This allows detailed images of huge objects such as filaments to be captured in a relatively short time.

Abell 3391/95 system eROSITA image

In this view of the eROSITA image (right; simulation comparison again), a very weak area of ​​rare gas can also be seen. Image source: Left: Reiprich et al., “Space Science Review”, 177, 195; Right: Reiprich et al., “Astronomy and Astrophysics”

Confirm standard model

In their study, the researchers examined a celestial body called Abell 3391/95. This is a system of three clusters of galaxies, about 700 million light years away. The eROSITA image not only shows star clusters and numerous independent galaxies, but also shows the gas filaments that connect these structures. The entire filament is 50 million light years long. But this may be even greater: Scientists believe that the image shows only one part.

Reiprich explained: “We compared the observations with the simulation results of reconstructing the evolution of the universe.” “The eROSITA images are very similar to computer-generated graphics. This shows that the widely accepted standard model of universe evolution is correct.” Most importantly Yes, the data shows that the missing material may actually be hidden in the filaments.

Reiprich is also a member of the Interdisciplinary Research Field (TRA) “Foundation of Matter and Fundamental Interaction” at the University of Bonn. In six different TRAs, scientists from different disciplines and disciplines gathered together to study research topics related to outstanding universities and the future.

Reference: “Abell 3391/95 galaxy system. 15 Mpc interstellar emission filament, warm air bridge, falling mass of matter and (re)acceleration plasma Discovered by combining SRG / eROSITA data with ASKAP / EMU and DECam data”, TH Reiprich, A. Veronica, F. Pacaud, ME Ramos-Ceja, N.Ota, J. Sanders, M. Kara, T. Erben, etc. ,accepted, Astronomy and Astrophysics.
DOI: 10.1051 / 0004-6361 / 202039590

Participating institutions and funds:

Nearly 50 scientists from institutions in Germany, the United States, Switzerland, Chile, Australia, Spain, South Africa and Japan participated in the study.

eROSITA was developed with funding from the Max Planck Society and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Last year, the telescope was launched by a Russian-German satellite, whose construction was supported by the Russian Space Agency Roskosmos. This work also used the dark energy camera (DECam) on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter telescope of the Cerro Tololo American Observatory, the NSF’s NOIRLab program, and the manufacture and operation of the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope. Provided by CSIRO (Federal Scientific and Industrial Research Organization). This research was funded by several research funding organizations in participating countries.




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