Scientists were able to obtain unprecedented details about the cosmic structures that connect galaxies.
Like rivers that feed the oceans, gas flows feed galaxies throughout the universe. These flows that are part of the so-called “cosmic web”, they are very faint and difficult to notice. Although astronomers have known about the cosmic web for decades, and have even glimpsed the glow of its filaments around bright cosmic objects like quasars, until now they have never directly imaged the darkest parts of space.
The cosmic web shines in the darkness of space
It’s the first time Caltech scientists have been able to see light emanating from the largest and most hidden part of the cosmic web, the thin, criss-crossing threads that stretch across the darkest corners of intergalactic space.
This animation reveals a 3D slice of the network of hydrogen filaments running through galaxies. The data was collected by the Keck Cosmic Web Imager, or KCWI, designed to reveal the structure of this mysterious component of the universe. The observed region is located about 10.5 billion light-years away. It extends over an area of 2.3 by 3.2 million light-years and is 600 million light-years deep (50 million per piece).
Galaxies originate from Gas cloud vortex. This gas then condenses to form stars that illuminate galaxies, making them visible to ground-based telescopes. Astronomers believe that these cold, dark filaments in deep space provide gas to galaxies, the fuel needed to form new stars.
References: California Institute of Technology
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