Cosmic threads may hide some of universe’s missing matter | Science News

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Cosmic threads may hide some of universe’s missing matter

Astronomers seek lost atoms in hard-to-see filaments between galaxy clusters

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4:56pm, August 4, 2015
galaxy cluster Abell 2744

SCAVENGER HUNT  The massive galaxy cluster Abell 2744, seen in this Hubble Space Telescope image, sits at the nexus of three galactic filaments that might house some of the universe's missing matter. 

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.

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