Skip to comments.Big Chunk Of The Universe Is Missing -- Again
Posted on 11/05/2007 11:18:05 AM PST by Red Badger
Not only has a large chunk of the universe thought to have been found in 2002 apparently gone missing again but it is taking some friends with it, according to new research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). The new calculations might leave the mass of the universe as much as ten to 20 percent lighter than previously calculated.
The same UAH group that found what was theorized to be a significant fraction of the "missing mass" that binds together the universe has discovered that some x-rays thought to come from intergalactic clouds of "warm" gas are instead probably caused by lightweight electrons.
If the source of so much x-ray energy is tiny electrons instead of hefty atoms, it is as if billions of lights thought to come from billions of aircraft carriers were found instead to come from billions of extremely bright fireflies.
"This means the mass of these x-ray emitting clouds is much less than we initially thought it was," said Dr. Max Bonamente, an assistant professor inUAH's Physics Department. "A significant portion of what we thought was missing mass turns out to be these 'relativistic' electrons."Traveling at almost the speed of light (and therefore "relativistic"), these feather weight electrons collide with photons from the cosmic microwave background. Energy from the collisions converts the photons from low-energy microwaves to high-energy x-rays.
"The discovery was made while trying to analyze the makeup of warm, x-ray emitting gas at the center of galaxy clusters - the largest cosmological structures in the universe. In 2002 the UAH team reported finding large amounts of extra "soft" (relatively low-energy) x-rays coming from the vast space in the middle of galaxy clusters. This was in addition to previously-discovered "hot" gas in that space, which emits higher energy"hard" x-rays.
Although the soft x-ray-emitting atoms were thought to be spread thinly through space (less than one atom per cubit meter), they would have filled billions of billions of cubic light years. Their cumulative mass was though tto account for as much as ten percent of the mass and gravity needed to hold together galaxies, galaxy clusters and perhaps the universe itself.
When Bonamente and his associates looked at data gathered by several satellite instruments, including the Chandra X-ray Observatory, from a galaxy cluster in the southern sky, however, they found that energy from those additional soft x-rays doesn't look like it should."We have never been able to detect spectral emission lines associated with those detections," he explained. "If this 'bump' in the data were due to cooler gas, it would have emission lines.
"The best, most logical explanation seems to be that a large fraction of the energy comes from electrons smashing into photons instead of from warm atoms and ions, which would have recognizable spectral emission lines.Finding these electrons, however, is like finding "the tip of the iceberg,"said Bonamente, because they would not be limited to emitting only the soft x-ray signal. The signal from these electrons would also make up part of the previously observed harder X-rays, which would reduce the amount of mass thought to make up the hot gas at the center of galaxy clusters.
To further complicate the issue, the energy from these electrons might also"puff up" the cluster. Previously, astrophysicists used the energy coming from inside these clusters to calculate how much mass is needed to reach the equilibrium seen there; too much mass and the cloud would collapse; too little and the hot gas cloud would expand.Since the energy coming from these hot clouds can be accurately measured, it was thought the mass could be calculated with reasonable confidence - for astrophysics.Instead, says Bonamente, if a significant portion of the total x-ray energy comes from fast electrons, "that could trick us into thinking there is more gas than is actually there.""It means we need to revise how we calculate both the gas mass and the total mass," he said. "We have to follow the evidence and, if that leads us to confusion, well that's OK."If part of the hard x-ray energy comes from electrons and photons, it might also shift what we think is the mix of elements in the universe.
Outside of the excess soft x-rays, the x-ray energy coming from galaxy clusters has emission lines which are especially prominent around iron and other metals.Non-thermal x-rays from electrons colliding with photons might mask those emission lines, like thick snow can mask the height of fence posts."This is also telling us there is fractionally more iron and other metals than we previously thought," said Bonamente. "Less mass but more metals."
Results of this research by Bonamente, Jukka Nevalainen of Finland'sHelsinki Observatory and UAH's Dr. Richard Lieu were published Oct. 20 in the "Astrophysical Journal.
Adapted from materials provided by University Of Alabama In Huntsville.
It may be with my keys.....
It is Bush’s fault.
Check with Jenny Craig...
I have it, and I’ll NOT return it until someone pays for it... I want at least $83,748,787.35 put in my secret offshore account by noon thursday (eastern) or: The Universe has had it.
Maybe it’s global warming.
Somebody should have been watching it more closely..........
Dentist took it. Whew, i was sure they were gonna blame me. (sweating)
Is somebody looking for it or something?
Can’t we just phone home to locate it?
Or UFOs doing magic acts just to fool us.
And all my unmatched socks
I'll put it back later tonight.
Has anyone seen Sandy Berger lately?
Just keep the doors and windows open and it will leave of its own accord when it gets good and ready..............
Yes, he’s “working” for the H! campaign, now.............
Allegra....you stealin' socks again?
Can you spot me a little loan when they pay??
"I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove anything."
But of course NJBC. Enough to buy you a new Harley, if that’s your wish.
Well, if you saw the Simpson’s movie, then I KNOW he didn’t take it!...............
SHRILLERY AND DILLDO KLINTOON
GIVE IT BACK!
INCLUDE THE WHITE HOUSE SILVERWARE.
Blackwater did it.
Every time we think we have a handle on the way the universe is put together, God pulls out a new phenomena that makes us start all over again from scratch.............
I don’t know if I’d want to have that silverware back. You don’t know where it’s been!..............
Sometimes I think the almighty made the universe for his amusement.
Cool, thanks....I really need a car though.
I didn’t think about that.
. . . and all those lesbo orgies at Camp David.
Used socks? Oh, no....only new socks have any appeal for me.
Are there any new socks in that missing chunk of universe?
Lemme go check the basement...
Dick Chenney has been playing with the Death Star again...
I am sure there are times when you open a pack of sock and put them in the washer and not all come out.
Dang...I always thought my cat was stealing them.
Scientists wrong again — Glad it wasn’t about something important.
And yet, we have consensus on the climate in a century from now.....................
Did Sandy Berger stuff it down his socks?
I think he borrowed Michael Moore’s pants to make room for this big of a chunk of the universe.
Yeah, we still have yet to find where He threw those dice...
It’s AWOL? Did anyone check Canada?
We don’t even know how Pakistan works.
I didn’t take it — honest!
pinging my favorite cosmologists, and even noting that the humor in this thread is worth reading
(Sigh!) Check ebay.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.