(ORDO NEWS) — Thanks to the Russian-German observatory Spektr-RG, astronomers have discovered a colossal bridge between galaxy clusters. Its size is impressive even by cosmic standards. The new discovery brilliantly confirms the ideas of scientists about the early youth of the universe.
The achievement is described in a scientific article published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Galaxies and galaxy clusters are interconnected by huge filaments of rarefied gas. These fibers remain from the times when the Universe in its current form was just forming. According to the calculations of specialists, this gas accounts for at least half of all ordinary (not dark) matter in the Universe.
However, it is very difficult to study such structures because they are incredibly sparse. There are only a few atomic nuclei per cubic meter of space. Such an environment deserves the title of absolute emptiness much more than the deepest vacuum created by man.
Still, this gas is not invisible. It emits X-rays. Spectra-RG X-ray telescopes with their high sensitivity, good resolution and huge field of view are an indispensable tool for studying these intergalactic strands.
The authors of the new study used data from the German telescope eROSITA aboard Spektra-RG. They studied object Abell 3391/95. It is a system of three galaxy clusters located 700 million light-years from Earth.
Astronomers discovered a huge filament of radiating gas between the two main clusters of the system. Its length is 50 million light years. According to a press release, it is the longest such structure ever discovered by observers. For comparison, our galaxy is only one hundred thousand light-years across.
The authors turned to the data obtained with optical and radio telescopes. Combining this information with eROSITA data, they modeled the formation of the cluster group Abell 3391/95. At the same time, scientists proceeded from generally accepted theories of the evolution of the Universe.
The result matched the observations surprisingly well. That is, the new discovery, despite all its extraordinaryness, does not refute our ideas about the world, but confirms them.
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