Scientists studying galaxy clusters have discovered the longest intergalactic string ever seen, extending up to 50 million light-years.
Scientists studying galaxy clusters have discovered the longest intergalactic string ever seen, extending up to 50 million light-years.Galaxies and clusters of galaxies are surrounded and interconnected by very hot gas strands known as "intergalactic filaments". These intergalactic strings form a cosmic lattice that stretches across the visible universe, inside which galaxies repeat in a similar pattern. The length of these strings has always been interesting, but an article in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics heralds the discovery of the longest intergalactic string.
According to previous research, after the Big Bang at the beginning of the universe and about 13.8 Billions of years ago, large amounts of the hydrogen gas that make up the world-famous substance turned into sheets, which in turn decomposed into long, marble-like strands. Now a group of scientists led by the University of Bonn, Germany, have observed the longest field ever discovered.
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This string of gas has been miraculously stretched over 50 million light-years, and its structure is in line with predictions made by researchers' computer simulations. . "It is estimated that more than half of the baryonic matter in our universe, which is made up of stars, planets, and even humans, is present in these disciplines," said Thomas Reiprich, lead author of the study and professor at the Erglander Institute of Astronomy at the University of Bonn. Because these strings are stretched over long distances, the particles that make them up are very scattered and therefore very difficult to distinguish. But Riprich and his colleagues were able to fully detect the gas for the first time using the eROSITA Space Telescope, an X-ray telescope under the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.
"EROSITA has highly sensitive X-ray detectors emitted from intergalactic filament gases," he said. The telescope also has a large field of view and can capture a relatively large part of the sky in one very high resolution measurement. "These features of the space telescope allow researchers to take accurate images of large objects, such as filaments, and to do so relatively quickly."
is located to the right of the eROSITA image and to the left of the computer simulation.
Credit: Reiprich et al., Space Science Reviews
In their study, Abell 3391/95 is a system with three galaxy clusters 700 million light-years from Earth. Images taken by eROSITA show individual clusters and galaxies as spots, but perhaps even more astonishing is the image seen of the connecting stems of galaxies and clusters stretched over 50 million light-years.
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Cover photo: A visible light image from the Abell 3391/95 system in which scientists have identified the longest galactic string ever.
Credit: Reiprich et al. , Astronomy & Astrophysics