Longest found intergalactic gas filament

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Optical imaging of the Abell 3391/95 system. Credit: Reiprich et al., Astronomy & Astronomy

More than half of the business in our universe so far has been hidden from us. However, astrophysicists had a hunter where it could be: In so-called filaments, structures resembling a giant fiber of hot gas that surrounds and connects galaxies and galaxy assemblages. A team led by the University of Bonn has now for the first time seen a gas filament with a length of 50 million light years. Its structure is very similar to the prediction of computer symbols. The observation also reinforces our notions of the origin and evolution of our universe. The results are published in the journal Astronomy & Astronomy.

We are slightly in debt. Quite just 13.8 billion years ago, the Big Bang happened. It is the beginning of space and time, but also of everything that makes up our universe today. Although initially targeted at one point, it expanded at a rapid pace – a cloud of gas in which the case was almost evenly distributed.

Almost, but not entirely: In some parts the cloud was slightly denser than in others. And for this reason alone are planets, stars and galleries today. This is because the congested forces exerted slightly higher gravitational forces, which drew the gas from the surrounding environment. As a result, more and more cases were focused on these areas over time. However, the space between them became empty and empty. Over a good 13 billion years, a kind of sponge structure developed: large “holes” without any cause, with areas between which thousands of galaxies are gathered in a small space, called galaxy assemblages.

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Image still from simulation showing hot gas circulation (left), compared to eROSITA X-ray image of Abell 3391/95 system (right). Credit: Reiprich et al., Astronomy & Astronomy

Fine lines of gas threads

If it really happened that way, the galleries and collections should still be connected with remnants of this gas, like the gossamer-thin threads of spider webs. “According to calculations, more than half of the baryonic matter in our universe is contained in these filaments – this is the kind of case in which stars and planets are made, as we are,” explained the t-Oll. Dr. Thomas Reiprich of the Argelander Institute for Astronomy at the University of Bonn. But so far it has overcome our cry: As a result of the great expansion of the filaments, the matter in them is greatly weakened: There are only ten particles per cubic meter, which is much less than the largest blank. best we can create on Earth.

However, with a new measuring instrument, the eROSITA space telescope, Reiprich and his colleagues were now able to make the gas fully visible for the first time. “EROSITA has highly sensitive detectors for the type of X-ray radiation emanating from the gas in filaments,” Reiprich explains. “It also has a panoramic view – like a wide-angle lens, it captures a relatively large part of the sky in one dimension, and at a very high resolution.” This allows detailed images of objects as large as filaments to be build them in a very short time.

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In this view of the eROSITA image (right; left again as a symbol for comparison) the narrow fields of thin gas are also visible. Credit: left: Reiprich et al., Space Science Reviews, 177, 195; nice: Reiprich et al., Astronomy & Astronomy

Verification of the standard model

In their study, the researchers examined a celestial object called Abell 3391/95. This is a system of three galaxy assemblages, which are about 700 million light-years away. The eROSITA images show not only the assemblages and several individual galaxies, but also the gas filaments that bind these structures. The entire filament is 50 million years light. But perhaps even more so: The scientists accept that the images show only a fraction.

“We compared our ideas with the results of simulations that reshape global evolution,” Reiprich explained. “The eROSITA images are very similar to computer-generated graphics. This suggests that the standard model that was widely accepted for global evolution is correct.” More importantly, the data show that the missing object appears to be hidden in the filaments.

Reiprich is also a member of the Interdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) “Building blocks of fundamental issues and interactions” at the University of Bonn. In six different TRAs, scientists from the most diverse faculties and disciplines come together to collaborate on relevant research topics in the future of the University of Excellence.

Has the hidden object of the universe been discovered?

Further information:
TH Reiprich et al. Abell 3391/95 galaxy browser system. 15 Mpc intergalactic medium filament, warm gas bridge, infalling material lumps, and (re-) accelerated plasma detected by combining SRG / eROSITA data with ASKAP / EMU and DECam data, Astronomy & Astronomy (2020). DOI: 10.1051 / 0004-6361 / 202039590

Presented by the University of Bonn

Citation: Discover the longest intermittent gas filament discovered (2020, December 17) on December 17, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-12-longest-intergalactic-gas-filament.html

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