Cosmic Web Filaments Finally Detected!

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New Discovery of Cosmic Web Filaments Helps Confirm Models and Furthers Understanding of How the Universe Formed.

Most astrophysicists agree that the Universe is about 13.8 billion years old and started with a “Big Bang.” The theory has prevailed for decades and even helped name a hit TV series. More recent research into the early development of the universe suggests that in the period immediately following the big bang, a web of gas filaments may have formed. However, scientists were unable to detect those cosmic web filaments. Until now. 

The Big Idea

The prevailing hypothesis was that a lot of the hydrogen in the early universe collapsed on itself and flattened out. Then, once in sheets, it broke apart to form filaments of gas that spread out in a web across the Universe. Scientists figured that where these filaments—or jets of gas—crossed paths in that web, new galaxies formed. 

Here’s a video that explains the idea a bit further:

“Echo Base… We’ve Found Them. Repeat: We’ve Found Them!”

That’s right, astronomers have found direct evidence of cosmic filament web. And they did it by measuring powerful light from newly forming galaxies.

In an interview with space.com, study lead author Hideki Umehata, an astronomer at the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research in Saitama, Japan said, “I originally did not expect to see such cosmic web filaments … they were thought to be much fainter and very hard to see,”

The SSA22 Protocluster received most of the focus of the experiment. It’s out toward the far edges of the observable Universe at around 12 billion light-years away. This protocluster, like all such heavenly bodies, is a collection of hundreds of thousands of individual galaxies that are starting to cluster together. They’re the biggest “bodies” (objects held together by gravity) in the universe.

Researchers used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to detect and map light from hydrogen. The hydrogen showed up when agitated by UV rays from galaxies in SSA22.

Now that we know this web exists, or at least we’re that much surer, we can begin to study the way the filaments interact and how they might have shaped our early universe. We can also use these observations to help us understand how the web might still effect Universal development. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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