(ORDO NEWS) — “Leaky” galaxies have helped astronomers unravel one of the oldest mysteries of the universe. A new study suggests that they played a crucial role in the ionization of cosmic material.
The new work offers an answer to a long-standing mystery about how everything around us became the universe as we know it.
The generally accepted theory is that at an early stage of its existence, the universe consisted of neutral interstellar gas.
Billions of years ago, it was much smaller and much hotter than it is today. In fact, it consisted of a hot plasma in which electrons were separated from atomic nuclei.
Calculations show that everything suddenly changed when the universe was about 380 thousand years old.
For some reason, it cooled down to such an extent that the electrons could recombine on their nuclei, forming a “soup” of neutral atoms.
However, the modern Universe does not consist of neutral gas at all, but is ionized.
Until recently, it was a mystery to scientists what happened to the Universe over billions of years, what exactly caused the neutral cosmic gas to turn into ionized plasma.
By the way, astronomers call this event the epoch of reionization.
In the new study, a team of astronomers used data from the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope, which is the most powerful to date.
The information obtained allowed the researchers to compare the characteristics of various galaxies.
Further modeling showed that, on average, galaxies in the early universe let through about 12 percent of high-energy photons.
And calculations have shown that this is just enough to potentially reionize the entire cosmos in a relatively short period of time.
In other words, “leaky” galaxies that let through photons, according to the authors of the work, are responsible for the epoch of reonization.
Scientists suggest that these events unfolded in the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang. “Leaky” they call young galaxies, characterized by a very large star formation.
The described scenario assumes that each individual galaxy is able to ionize gas only in its immediate vicinity.
But there were quite a few galaxies through which high-energy radiation could seep into the surrounding space. This allowed the entire universe to reionize.
Contact us: [email protected]