Ordinary matter, which makes up everything that we know — stars, planets, people — corresponds to five percent of the Universe. Only about half of this small percentage has actually been discovered; the other half has, until now, eluded scientists.
Numerical simulations have made it possible to predict that the rest of this ordinary matter should be located in large-scale structures that form the “cosmic web” at temperatures between 100,000 and 10 million degrees.
Scientists are the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Switzerland have observed this phenomenon directly. Their research, recently published in Nature, shows that the majority of the missing ordinary matter is found in the form of a very hot gas associated with intergalactic filaments.
Galaxies are formed when ordinary matter collapses and then proceeds to cool down. In order to understand the origin of this formation, it is required to understand the form, as well as the location of the ordinary matter that we do not perceive (missing baryons) is located.
Astrophysicists from UNIGE and the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) focused on Abell 2744, a massive cluster of galaxies with a complex distribution of dark and luminous matter at its core. The researchers observed this cluster with the XMM space telescope whose sensitivity to X-rays allows it to detect signatures of very hot gas.
Previous large-scale galaxy research has shown that the distribution of ordinary matter in the Universe is not homogenous, instead, it is concentrated into filamentary structures. These structures form a network of knots and links, referred to as the “cosmic web,” which connect to one another through filaments. Researchers were able to measure the temperature and density of these objects by focusing on the areas where they suspected to find these filaments.
“Now we must verify that the discovery of Abell 2744’s missing baryons is applicable to the entire universe. This will consist in studying these filamentary regions in detail, and measuring their temperature distribution and the various atoms that compose them, in order to understand how many heavy elements there are in the universe,” says lead scientist Dominique Eckert in the press release.
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NASA and the world news has been buzzing since researchers discovered the best evidence yet that Mars does indeed have water on it. As the most similar to Earth of all the planets, it has many wondering: could life on Mars be a viable option?
As fresh and clean water becomes less and less available on earth (and extracting salt from water is still expensive), finding other sources of the most necessary ingredient to life is growing in importance.
With the knowledge of dried up riverbed and sedimentary rock formations, we were aware for a while of Mars’ watery past (most likely over a billion years ago), but it was assumed that it was in the past. Signs of erosion were examined, which helped determine that at one time Mars had oceans along its surface going over a mile deep. But this water source was depleted as the planet lost its protective magnetic field from strong solar wind.
Now equipped with imagery of the water formations along the mountains of Mars, it would seem possible to make it a harvestable place to grow vegetation for consuming, but there is a problem. The water is poisonous. It’s filled with perchlorates, which are lethal to humans, but the water can be treated and processed into drinking water. Since the discovery, researchers are wondering if there is a water spring or gusher still waiting to be found. With more knowledge, the possibilities could be endless.
This is just the beginning in learning how exactly humans can use Mars to solves some of her problems. According to Buzz Aldrin, who was the pilot of the first manned mission to the moon, this is another small step for mankind just like those first steps on the moon. He believes that, “no dream is too high for those with their eyes in the sky!”
Scientists have recently discovered the smallest supermassive blackhole to date. Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers were able to spot the blackhole lurking in the centre of a dwarf galaxy.
Located around 340 million light-years away from us, this blackhole is 50,000 times the mass of the sun. While this may sound large, when compared to the previous smallest object of its kind, this blackhole is actually two times smaller.
Supermassive blackholes are thought to form and evolve with the host galaxies whose centres they inhabit. Every large galaxy is believed to have a supermassive blackhole at its centre. This discovery, however, is the first supermassive blackhole found to be identified in a dwarf galaxy.
“By studying how galaxies like this one are growing and feeding their black holes and how the two are influencing each other, we could gain a better understanding of how galaxies were forming in the early universe,” said Vivienne Baldassare, a U-M doctoral student . “The black hole we found is active and based on the X-ray observations, it appears to be is consuming material at a rate similar to active black holes in much more massive galaxies.”
To learn more about this discovery and what it means for astronomers and researchers alike, check out this article.
NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover has been on Mars for 11 years and has covered a large distance during this time. 26.2 miles in fact, the distance of a marathon. The rover has captured amazing images and has allowed us to learn a great deal about the planet. To commemorate the event of Mars Opportunity rover completing a ‘marathon’ NASA has released a video that allows you to watch the entire journey it has taken throughout its mission to mars. It is a great video that gives you a amazing perspective of the planet. I highly recommend you take the time to check it out. Enjoy your trip to Mars!
A huge black hole has re-awakened after 26 years of being dormant. The black hole is located about 7,800 light-years from Earth and is described by the European Space Agency as part of V404 Cygni, a binary system made of up the hole and a star. The last time activity was dedicated from V404 was back in 1989, but on June 15th NASA’s Swift satellite detected new bursts of gamma rays.
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NASA is planning to send a group of astronauts to Mars by the mid – to late 2030s. Now they must begin to decide where its first astronauts should make their landing on the Red Planet. This October in Houston, NASA will be holding a workshop where they will discuss possible landing sites for this expedition.
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For years, scientists believed the stratosphere to be an atmospheric feature unique to planets within our own solar system. But in an recent journal entry, scientists reveal this isn’t exactly the case.
In case you don’t know, the stratosphere is a layer of the atmosphere (including our own on earth!) that is distinguished by two main characteristics. First, is temperature inversion. Simply put, the higher up you go in the stratosphere, the hotter it gets. This is opposed to layers like the troposphere, in which temperatures decrease with altitude (which is partially why your plane rides are a bit chilly). Secondly, the stratosphere contains particles which help absorb the sun’s rays. On Earth, we have the Ozone. On other planets, there are molecules called hydrocarbons. Until now, it was believed that exoplanets were just too hot to facilitate the presence of such son absorbing molecules. But WASP-33b, the exoplanet in question, apparently does have an atmospheric layer characterized by a temperature inversion– and scientists believe it to be caused by titanium oxide. In other words, it looks like there very well may be stratospheres in other star systems.
Read the NASA Press Release