Feeds

BLAZING HEAVENLY gas BRIDGE filament links galactic clusters

Bifröst, the burning on-ramp to Valhalla, seen at last

Application security programs and practises

The European Space Agency's Planck space telescope has discovered a bridge of hot gas connecting two galactic clusters across ten million light-years of intergalactic space.

Planck discovers bridge of hot gas connecting galaxy clusters

Planck tries to capture pictures of the ancient light of the cosmos, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). This faint light tootles around the universe, and as it does, it runs into things like galaxies or galaxy clusters that are bound together by gravity.

If the CMB light then interacts with the hot gas permeating galaxy clusters, its energy distribution changes in a way predicted by boffins called the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect, named after the scientists who discovered it.

This effect is used by Planck by detect the huge cosmic structures knowns as galaxy clusters already, but it's also allowed the space telescope to see the faint filaments of gas that link one cluster to another.

Before now, the tenuous gas links remained mostly undetected. Astroboffins theorise that the filaments can best be spotted when the clusters interact with each other and the filaments are compressed and heated up.

This was how Planck spotted the bridge between clusters Abell 399 and Abell 401, a billion light years from Earth and each containing hundreds of galaxies. The possibility of the filament was first hinted at by X-ray data from ESA's XMM-Newton, but the new data confirms it.

The temperature of the bridge is similar to the gas in the two clusters, on the order of 80 million degrees Celsius and the gas in the link could be a mixture of the elusive filaments of the cosmic web combined with the gas from each cluster.

Planck will continue to probe galaxy clusters to figure out their connection to the gas of the universe, from which all groups of galaxies were originally formed. ®

Bootnote

Ancient Norse legend tells of Bifröst, a glowing rainbow bridge between our world of Midgard and Asgard, home of the Gods and location of Valhalla, the hall of the slain heroes. In the Poetic Edda, we learn that Bifröst blazes with flames. It will be broken at Ragnarök, the universe-ending battle between the Gods and the Frost Giants.

Some have theorised that the old Norse Bifröst may have been inspired by the Milky Way. The skalds surely were unaware of galactic clusters and the filaments linking them. But a superhot 80-million-degree glowing sky bridge connecting galactic clusters is evidently so fiery and stupendous in scale as to be even more like Bifröst.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.