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Is the Universe Hiding its Missing Mass in the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium?

Posted by Guy Pirro 02/23/2019 04:58PM

Is the Universe Hiding its Missing Mass in the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium?

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the “normal” matter in the Universe. New results from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them locate this elusive expanse of missing matter. In the time between the first few minutes and the first billion years or so, much of the normal matter (meaning hydrogen, helium and other elements) made its way into cosmic dust, gas, and objects such as stars and planets that telescopes can see in the present day Universe. The problem is that when astronomers add up the mass of all the normal matter in the present day Universe, about a third of it can't be found. One idea is that the missing mass gathered into gigantic strands or filaments of “Warm” (temperature less than 100,000 Kelvin) and “Hot” (temperature greater than 100,000 Kelvin) gas in intergalactic space. These filaments are known by astronomers as the "Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium" or WHIM. They are invisible to optical light telescopes, but some of the warm gas in filaments has been detected in ultraviolet light. Using a new technique, researchers have found new and strong evidence for the hot component of the WHIM based on data from Chandra and other telescopes. (Please note that the missing mass described here is distinct from the still mysterious dark matter).


  • jedswift [Jared Smith]
  • 02/28/2019 08:39AM
Very interesting preliminary results. Nice pun at the end.