Science

What's the Matter? Scientists Spot the Missing Part of the Universe

What's the Matter? Scientists Spot the Missing Part of the Universe

The universe is missing half its matter. Apart from the mysterious and elusive dark matter - that is thought to permeate the majority of the universe - models of the universe predict that there should be about twice as much ordinary matter than what has been observed so far.

However, our observations of normal matter (protons, neutrons and electrons) only account for about 2.5 percent of the universe-the rest of it is nowhere to be found. However, there is an abstruse problem of missing baryon particles. Two teams of researchers have now claimed to have resolved this issue.

The scientists from the Institute of Space Astrophysics in France and the University of Edinburgh relied on previous research results which suggested that stars, the interstellar environment and hot gasses of galactic clusters contain only 50 percent of the theoretical amount of the Baryonic matter.

Both teams repeated this process for multiple pairs of galaxies to show that their readings were consistent across multiple test sites-one team tested a million pairs, the other 260,000. They then took data from the Planck satellite, which maps the cosmic microwave background (CMB)-the afterglow from the Big Bang. Since the tendrils of gas between galaxies are so diffuse, the dim blotches they cause are far too slight to be seen directly on Plancks map. One group found them to be three times as dense as the mean of observable matter, the other group six times-a difference that was expected, the groups explain, due to differences in distances from the galaxies that were studied.

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The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.

Dr. Ralph Kraft, an astrophysicist from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics at MA in US State, explained that, "Everybody sort of knows that it has to be there, but this is the first time that somebody - two different groups, no less - has come up with a definitive detection".

"Everybody sort of knows that it has to be there, but this is the first time that somebody - two different groups, no less - has come up with a definitive detection", says Ralph Kraft at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in MA. "This goes a long way toward showing that many of our ideas of how galaxies form and how structures form over the history of the universe are pretty much correct".

Tanimura's paper has been submitted for publication in the Monthly Notices for the Royal Astronomical Society, while de Graaff's has been submitted to the Nature journal.