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Space & Astronomy

Half of the universe's missing matter found

By T.K. Randall
October 12, 2017 · Comment icon 14 comments

Does the warm-hot intergalactic medium hold the answer ? Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ESO
A long-standing mystery concerning the whereabouts of the universe's missing matter has been solved.
Based on measurements of the background radiation left over from the Big Bang, scientists believe that around 5% of the mass of the universe is made up of ordinary matter - the type that we ourselves consist of as well as all the asteroids, planets, stars and galaxies that we see through our telescopes.

Adding up the mass of all the objects in the observable universe however produces a figure that is as little as a tenth of the expected amount - so where did all the rest of the matter go ?

Known as the 'missing baryon problem', an answer to this question has eluded scientists for years.
Now though, two separate teams of researchers may have finally found at least a partial solution to this conundrum and it is all to do with the theoretical existence of gaseous threads known as the 'warm-hot intergalactic medium', or 'Whim', which link clusters of galaxies together.

Detecting these theoretical filaments has long proven a challenge, but now, for the first time, indirect evidence for their existence has finally been found.

The discovery suggests that at least 30% of all the ordinary matter in the universe could be contained within these intergalactic threads, leaving only around half of the missing matter still unaccounted for.

"These two papers have been very prominently discussed and people are excited," said Richard Ellis, a professor of astrophysics at the University College London. "The Whim is out there."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (14)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
So the galaxies are tethered together with these baryons.  I guess they have to strength or grow in some manner as the universe is still expanding.  Hopefully they won't act like a bungee cord and snap back after they are fully stretched?  If they do/did, maybe the cause of the "Big Bang"?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
This word "baryon" seems to be causing a lot of confusion. Baryons are simply a series of subatomic particles, including the protons, neutrons and electrons which form ordinary atoms. They are simply the same stuff that makes up you, me the sun, planet earth and all the rest of ordinary matter in the universe. Indeed the article actually tells you what form these baryons take: (my emphasis) In fact the article refers to these baryons as being gas a further SIX times. So they do not need to have magical powers growing powers, it's just gas.
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
That's what I get for speed reading at work.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Parsec 7 years ago
 Super cool (or hot in this case?)!    So, did they possibly detect Whim instead of dark matter?   
Comment icon #9 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
I wonder how the filaments got there? Left from when the galaxies condensed? Intergalactic contrails? 
Comment icon #10 Posted by mysticwerewolf 7 years ago
it is  my unproven/unprovable opinion that the big bang from this cycle of existence was so powerful that much of the materal that resulted  was blown into dust that is so small it cannot be seen.... but isn't radiation a molecular material? and if it is, is that considered a part of the visable universe yet to be found, or already found?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Almighty Evan 7 years ago
Get out before the baryon sweep begins, and don't forget the saddle!
Comment icon #12 Posted by AZDZ 7 years ago
Black Alert! Engage Spore Hub Drive!
Comment icon #13 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
And yet, the missing half of Trump's brain remains undiscovered.
Comment icon #14 Posted by MisterMan 7 years ago
Not really.  Electromagnetic radiation (light) and Particle Radiation (Alpha, Beta, etc.) are composed of subatomic particles.  But I suspect you meant "matter," not "molecular material."  In that case, yes, radiation is matter.  


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