Mystery of Universe's Hidden Matter Finally Solved

Американским ученым удалось найти ранее неизвестную материю Вселенной

Previous studies have suggested that all the ordinary matter that we know of - stars, planets, galaxies, galaxy clusters - represents only about 10 percent of the universe's baryon content.

Researchers have just revealed the last vestiges of matter that belongs to this universe we are now inhabiting.

The finding is a major step for astrophysics. They were found between the quasar and the Solar system. This year, an global team of researchers from various universities in Europe and the United States has managed to pinpoint the hiding place of the rest of the universe's missing baryons.

According to the research team, science has known for several decades that "the observed number of baryons in the local universe falls about 30 to 40 percent short of the total number of baryons predicted by Big Bang nucleosynthesis" - the process in which the nuclei of atoms were formed through nuclear reactions inside early stars at the beginning of the universe. But now, to search for the last third of baryons, the astronomers aimed a few telescopes towards 1ES 1553 quasar, a black hole in the middle of a galaxy that absorbs and ejects enormous volumes of gas.

"This is where nature has become very perverse", Michael Shull, scientist at the University of Colorado, said in a news release. In the 1990s, astrophysicists made predictions of the way in which many hydrogen and helium atoms had been formulated in the Big Bang.

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Now, however, an worldwide team claims to have finally found that last chunk of baryonic matter, solving a mystery that has plagued scientists for decades. They could find 10% of it in galaxies and nearly 60% between the galaxies, the clouds of gas. In 2012, Shull and Charles Danforth, a research associate at CU Boulder, proposed the possibilities for the baryons to be in a web-like pattern in space known as the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM), which is a wild terrain. The gas filaments were found in intergalactic space, registering temperatures of around 1 million degrees Celsius. "It's basically a really bright lighthouse out in space", Shull said. "This intergalactic medium contains filaments of gas at temperatures from a few thousand degrees to a few million degrees".

Scientists can glean a lot of information by recording how the radiation from a quasar passes through space, a bit like a sailor seeing a lighthouse through fog.

By studying the behavior of the quasar beams as they passed through intergalactic space, scientists got a sense of where these missing baryons might be located.

The breakthrough is primarily thanks to the XMM-Newton Space Observatory, an orbiting satellite that's equipped with incredibly sensitive and powerful X-ray sensing equipment. Quasar's light takes more than 4 billion years to reach Earth.

However, the researchers still need to confirm their findings by analyzing the radiation from different quasars. "There's some sort of ecology going on between the two regions, and the details of that are poorly understood". This unaccounted percentage was the focus of the current experiment published in the journal Nature on June 20.

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