The vast and mysterious network of webs that interweaves and connects the entire Universe has finally been discovered by astronomers.
For a long time, this invisible structure remained hidden, but recent discoveries are shedding light on this amazing mystery of the cosmos. The study was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
In the dark reaches of intergalactic space, where the darkness seems limitless, astronomers have detected the faint glow of these filaments that stretch billions of light years across the abyss of the Universe.
Previously, such structures were only discovered near bright objects such as quasars, but now they are visible in the darkest corners of our galaxy.
“Before this latest discovery, we saw thread-like structures under a lamppost,” says astrophysicist Christopher Martin of the California Institute of Technology. “Now we can see them without a lamp.”
These webs, made of dark matter, span vast distances in the Universe, connecting galaxies, clusters, and other cosmic structures. Hydrogen is thought to flow along these filaments, providing galaxies with new material for star formation.
Detecting the dim glow of this cool, diffuse hydrogen was challenging given the bright objects in the Universe. But the discovery has huge implications for astronomy and cosmology, as it could provide information about long-awaited dark matter and the expansion of the Universe.
“The cosmic web outlines the architecture of our universe,” Martin said. “This is where most of the normal matter in our galaxy lurks and allows us to track the location of dark matter.”
To detect these faint filaments, astrophysicists have developed a special tool, the Keck Cosmic Web Imager (KCWI), which can extract hydrogen glow solely from complex background data.
The researchers carried out detailed modeling and studied the areas of the sky where the webs of this cosmic web were discovered. They used the redshift effect, which allowed them to create a three-dimensional map of hydrogen glow at distances of 10-12 billion light years.
This is the time in the history of the Universe when it was just being formed after the Big Bang. This discovery allows us to better understand the evolution and development of our Universe, as well as the processes that led to the formation of the first stars and black holes.