Researchers Found The Missing Ordinary Matter


What is ordinary matter and why couldn’t it be found until now if it’s called ‘ordinary’?

Ordinary matter is also known as “baryons.” It makes up every physical object, like stars and even the core of black holes. However, all matter created by the Big Bang hasn’t been yet discovered.

Now, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder helped to find some of the missing matter.

An international team of researchers found baryons in the space between galaxies. According to the co-author of the study, Michael Shull (University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences – APS), the lost matter was filaments of oxygen gas at almost 1 million degrees Celsius. He stated that:

“This is one of the key pillars of testing the Big Bang theory: figuring out the baryon census of hydrogen and helium and everything else in the periodic table.”

The new study appeared on 20 June in the journal Nature. It was led by Fabrizio Nicastro (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF), Italy, Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).

The team of researchers now know where to find the ordinary matter in the universe. They could find 10% of it in galaxies and almost 60% between the galaxies, the clouds of gas.

Back in 2012, Shull and his colleagues believed that 30% of the missing baryons were found in space, in a pattern similar to a web – called the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM). The co-author of the study Charles Danforth (APS) contributed to the findings.

“We found the missing baryons,” Michael Shull.

Shull said that the team looked at a series of satellites at a quasar (1ES 1553), and saw “a really bright lighthouse out in space,” Shull said. Scientists recorded the radiation coming from the quasar into space, using the Hubble Space Telescope and its Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. After getting an idea where the baryons could be, they used the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) satellite from the European Space Agency.

And finally, they found traces of a type of highly-ionized oxygen gas between the quasar and our solar system. Extrapolating the entire universe, baryons accounted for at least 30% of the ordinary matter.

The next step would be for the team to confirm their findings by looking at brighter quasars.


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