Feeds

BLAZING HEAVENLY gas BRIDGE filament links galactic clusters

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

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN Kickstarter breaks NINETEEN THOUSAND of your EARTH POUNDS
That's right, OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.