Astronomers seek lost atoms in hard-to-see filaments between galaxy clusters
HONOLULU — Some people have trouble finding their keys; astronomers, meanwhile, have been having trouble locating half of the atoms in the universe. Fortunately, researchers have a good idea of where to look. The misplaced matter seems to have collected in cosmic filaments, hundreds of millions of light-years long, which connect galaxy clusters across the cosmos.
Three such filaments extending from the galaxy cluster Abell 2744 (SN: 6/13/15, p. 32) are loaded with gas that’s hoarding some of the missing mass, says Dominique Eckert, an astrophysicist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. The temperature and density of the gas closely match those from computer simulations implicating gas filaments as a hiding place, Eckert reported August 3 at meeting of the International Astronomical Union.