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Astrophysicists Discover Unfathomably Large Intergalactic Gas Filament – SciTechDaily

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Optical image of the Abell 3391/95 system taken with the DECam camera. Superimposed are the eROSITA image (darker = higher gas density) and radio contours (yellow) of the ASKAP telescope. Credit: Reiprich et al., Astronomy & Astrophysics

Study confirms models on the evolution of our universe.

More than half of the matter in our universe has so far remained hidden from us. However, astrophysicists had a hunch where it might be: In so-called filaments, unfathomably large thread-like structures of hot gas that surround and connect galaxies and galaxy clusters. A team led by the University of Bonn has now for the first time observed a gas filament with a length of 50 million light years. Its structure is strikingly similar to the predictions of computer simulations. The observation therefore also confirms our ideas about the origin and evolution of our universe. The results are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

We owe our existence to a tiny aberration. Pretty much exactly 13.8 billion years ago, the Big Bang occurred. It is the beginning of space and time, but also of all matter that makes up our universe today. Although it was initially concentrated at one point, it expanded at breakneck speed — a gigantic gas cloud in which matter was almost uniformly distributed.

Almost, but not completely: In some parts the cloud was a bit denser than in others. And for this reason alone there are planets, stars, and galaxies today. This is because the denser areas exerted slightly higher gravitational forces, which drew the gas from their surroundings towards them. More and more matter therefore concentrated at these regions over time. The space between them, however, became emptier and emptier. Over the course of a good 13 billion years, a kind of sponge structure developed: large “holes” without any matter, with areas in between where thousands of galaxies are gathered in a small space, so-called galaxy clusters.

Abell 3391/95 System eROSITA X-ray Image

Still image from a simulation showing the distribution of hot gas (left), compared with the eROSITA X-ray image of the Abell 3391/95 system (right). Credit: Reiprich et al., Astronomy & Astrophysics

Fine web of gas threads

If it really happened that way, the galaxies and clusters should still be connected by remnants of this gas, like the gossamer-thin threads of a spider web. “According to calculations, more than half of all baryonic matter in our universe is contained in these filaments — this is the form of matter of which stars and planets are composed, as are we ourselves,” explains Prof. Dr. Thomas Reiprich from the Argelander Institute for Astronomy at the University of Bonn. Yet it has so far escaped our gaze: Due to the enormous expansion of the filaments, the matter in them is extremely diluted: It contains just ten particles per cubic meter, which is much less than the best vacuum we can create on Earth.

However, with a new measuring instrument, the eROSITA space telescope, Reiprich and his colleagues were now able to make the gas fully visible for the first time. “eROSITA has very sensitive detectors for the type of X-ray radiation that emanates from the gas in filaments,” explains Reiprich. “It also has a large field of view — like a wide-angle lens, it captures a relatively large part of the sky in a single measurement, and at a very high resolution.” This allows detailed images of such huge objects as filaments to be taken in a comparatively short time.

Abell 3391/95 System eROSITA Image

In this view of the eROSITA image (right; left again a simulation for comparison) the very faint areas of thin gas are also visible. Credit: left: Reiprich et al., Space Science Reviews, 177, 195; right: Reiprich et al., Astronomy & Astrophysics

Confirmation of the standard model

In their study, the researchers examined a celestial object called Abell 3391/95. This is a system of three galaxy clusters, which is about 700 million light years away from us. The eROSITA images show not only the clusters and numerous individual galaxies, but also the gas filaments connecting these structures. The entire filament is 50 million light years long. But it may be even more enormous: The scientists assume that the images only show a section.

“We compared our observations with the results of a simulation that reconstructs the evolution of the universe,” explains Reiprich. “The eROSITA images are strikingly similar to computer-generated graphics. This suggests that the widely accepted standard model for the evolution of the universe is correct.” Most importantly, the data show that the missing matter is probably actually hidden in the filaments.

Reiprich is also a member of the Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) “Building blocks of matter and fundamental interactions” at the University of Bonn. In six different TRAs, scientists from the most diverse faculties and disciplines come together to work collaboratively on future-relevant research topics of the University of Excellence.

Reference: “The Abell 3391/95 galaxy cluster system. A 15 Mpc intergalactic medium emission filament, a warm gas bridge, infalling matter clumps, and (re-) accelerated plasma discovered by combining SRG/eROSITA data with ASKAP/EMU and DECam data” by T.H. Reiprich, A. Veronica, F. Pacaud, M.E. Ramos-Ceja, N. Ota, J. Sanders, M. Kara, T. Erben, et al., Accepted, Astronomy & Astrophysics.
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202039590

Participating institutions and funding:

Almost 50 scientists from institutions in Germany, the USA, Switzerland, Chile, Australia, Spain, South Africa, and Japan participated in the study.

eROSITA was developed with funding from the Max Planck Society and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The telescope was launched into space last year on board a Russian-German satellite whose construction was supported by the Russian space agency Roskosmos. This work also used the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, built and operated by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). The current study was funded by several research funding organizations in the participating countries.

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How a Vancouver photographer captured this epic night shot of The Lions | News – Daily Hive

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At only 20 years old, Vancouver photographer Liron Gertsman already has an impressive resume.

His work has been featured in some of the largest museums across the world, including the Natural History Museum in London and the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

And while his latest work may be closer to home, it features worlds far beyond our own.

“There is so much to see if you can get outside on a clear night and look up at the sky,” he told Daily Hive. “Stargazing is a fantastic pandemic activity.”

But beyond just simply “gazing” at the stars, Gertsman recently captured this stunning photo of the North America and Pelican Nebulae in what’s known as the Cygnus region of the night sky, above The Lions on the North Shore.

Liron Gertsman

Describing it as “one of the most ambitious” photos he’s ever attempted, Gertsman shared how it all came, from planning and execution to the final product.

“I first imagined this photo a few months ago,” he said. “While running virtual simulations on my computer, I was astonished to see that the North America Nebula, a huge cloud of gas over 2200 light years from Earth, would align perfectly with The Lions, if I was in the right place at the right time.”

However, he also realized that capturing the photo would require that he take the picture from a “heavily light-polluted” area.

As such, Gertsman said he “wasn’t convinced” that the image he was trying to capture was even possible.

The other factor putting doubt in his mind was the typical wet weather Vancouver receives during the winter months.

“This is a rainforest, and clear skies can be very rare in winter,” he said.

After waiting for a few months, Gertsman was rewarded for patiently biding his time, as the opportunity presented itself on the night of January 21.

“I would be battling a 62% illuminated moon, but given the rarity of the clear night, I decided to attempt the image,” he said.

The attempt included waiting in the cold for three-and-a-half hours, and gathering long exposure data on the nebulae as it moved across the sky, until it was directly above The Lions.

The final image includes two hours of exposure time, taken without movement of his tripod.

As for his setup, Gertsman said he used a full-spectrum modified Canon 6D and a Canon 100-400mm lens at 200mm, mounted on a SkyWatcher star tracker. He also used three filters:

First, one that allows visible light to pass through but extends further than normal to the 656nm H-alpha wavelength emitted by nebulae. This data, he explained, was important for “gathering accurate colour.”

Second, an H-alpha filter, which selectively allows the 656nm wavelength of the nebula through while blocking out most moonlight and light pollution.

Third, a normal visible light filter, to gather natural colours for the foreground.

These images were combined, stacked, and stretched in post-processing to create this final image.

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How to watch NASA preview its Perseverance Mars rover landing – CNET

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An illustration of NASA’s Perseverance rover deploying a supersonic parachute before landing on Mars.


NASA/JPL-CalTech

NASA is just weeks away from landing a shiny new robot on the surface of Mars. This Wednesday it’ll break down for us the process of setting the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on the surface of the red planet.

Perseverance is due to land in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, the first artificial object to land on the surface since the Mars Insight lander in 2018 and the first rover since Curiosity touched down in 2012.

Perseverance carries a number of science instruments to help look for signs of ancient life on our neighboring world, to collect samples that will be returned to Earth and to test some technologies for future Mars missions.

Also, it has a tiny helicopter.


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Robots have spent years rolling around Mars, which is pretty cool, but for the first time NASA will use a small helicopter, dubbed Ingenuity, to try flying around the planet.

Several leaders from the Mars 2020 Perseverance team will be on hand Wednesday to discuss the mission and run through what landing day will look like.

The briefing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET, and you can watch it all live right here.

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar. 

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First full moon of 2021 might be tough to see this week | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source – iNFOnews

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Full Moon fever grips Kamloops and the Okanagan this week as the year’s first full moon lights up the nighttime sky on Jan. 28, 2021.
Image Credit: Peter Mgr

January 26, 2021 – 6:30 AM

The first full moon of 2021 and the second one of the winter season will be viewable over Kamloops and the Okanagan later this week.

The second full moon of the season, known variously as the Wolf, Snow or Hunger Moon, will look visibly full on Jan. 27 and 28, but in astronomical terms it is at its fullest on Jan. 28 at 11:16 a.m., Pacific time, when daytime might make it a bit difficult to see.

Earthsky.org says to expect to see a full-looking moon in the east at dusk or early evening. The moon should appear full to the average viewer the night before and the night after its Jan. 28 peak.

Unfortunately for us in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, this month’s Wolf Moon might prove difficult to view at any time during the next few days.

Environment Canada is calling for mainly cloudy skies with periods of snow or flurries from Tuesday night, Jan. 26 through Friday, Jan. 29, with a hint of sun forecast for Friday, so keep an eye out for a break in the clouds.

The next full moon is the Snow Moon, expected on Feb. 27.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to tips@infonews.ca and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won’t censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.

News from © iNFOnews, 2021

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