Collision study of galaxy clusters sheds light on mystery of ‘lost’ matter

(ORDO NEWS) — Although scientists know a lot about the composition of the universe, there is an annoying problem that they still cannot explain – missing matter.

This is a separate mystery, where is about a third of the “normal” matter, which consists of hydrogen, helium and other elements and forms objects such as stars and planets.

It has yet to be detected using observations of the local universe, that is, in regions less than a few billion light-years from Earth.

Scientists have suggested that at least some of this missing mass may be hidden in giant filaments of warm and hot gas with a temperature of 10,000 to 10,000,000 K, located in the space between galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Scientists call this phenomenon “warm-hot intergalactic medium” (WHIM).

A team of astronomers using the Chandra Observatory to observe a system of colliding galaxy clusters has found evidence for the existence of WHIM.

The researchers used Chandra to study the Abell 98 object, which contains two colliding galaxy clusters. Abell 98 lies about 1.4 billion light-years from Earth.

The Chandra data shows an X-ray bridge between two colliding clusters containing gases with temperatures between 10 and 20 million K.

The hotter gas likely comes from the gas in the two clusters overlapping each other. The temperature and density of the colder gas are consistent with predictions for the hottest and densest gas at WHIM.

In addition, the Chandra data shows the presence of a shock wave that is moving in front of one of the clusters. For the first time, astronomers detected such a shock wave in the early stages of a collision.

The wave could be directly related to the discovery of WHIM in Abell 98 because it was the one that heated the gas between the clusters.

This could raise the temperature of the gas in the WHIM filament enough to be detected by Chandra.

“When clusters of galaxies collide, we have the opportunity to see extreme physics that we rarely see in any other cosmic setting,” the scientists said.

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