A bridge of hot gases connects the two galaxy clusters Abell 222 and 223. They are about 2, 300 million light-years from Earth. Picture: A. Finoguenov (ESA / XMM-Newton / MPE)
Read aloud German and Dutch astronomers have discovered a bridge of hot gas between two galaxy clusters. This gas is the previously missing matter that, together with the galaxies, stars and visible gases, should make up around five percent of the universe, according to researchers led by Alexis Finoguenov from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching. The existence of this veil of gas had already been suspected some ten years ago. With the galaxies as nodes, the gases form a gigantic cosmic net. In the models of astronomers, the universe consists of 72 percent of the so-called dark energy, 23 percent dark matter and only about 5 percent of the known visible matter with its atoms and electrons. Little is known about the nature of dark energy and dark matter. But even if astronomers add up the visible matter in galaxies, stars, and gases, so far they only account for half of the estimated five percent. Scientists had therefore suspected that the universe is interlaced with gossamer threads of gas, the galaxy clusters link together.

By their measurements with the X-ray space telescope XMM-Newton the researchers around Finoguenov could now confirm this hypothesis. Since the thin gas veils can not be identified by a glance from the side, Finoguenov had to find a special spatial position of two galaxy clusters. At about 2, 300 million light-years away from Earth, heaps Abell 222 and 223 are slightly offset one behind the other, so there is much radiating matter in the line of sight along the gas curtain. The gas has a temperature of one hundred thousand to several million degrees Celsius and therefore emits X-rays. This hot gas is part of the previously missing matter, the researchers report. "Now we can study the connecting threads of the cosmic spider web for the first time, " says the researcher Aurora Simionescu from the Max Planck Institute, who is involved in the study.

Alexis Finoguenov (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching) et al .: Astronomy & Astrophysics, Vol. 482, p. 29 ddp / science.de? Martin Schäfer

© science.de

Recommended Editor'S Choice