Astronomers: The universe is a space with a lot of movement. Even though we may not be able to perceive it, we ourselves rotate around the center of the galaxy. Now, for the first time, astronomers have found evidence that some of the largest structures in the cosmos also rotate — on a scale of hundreds of millions of light years. If validated, this will be the largest rotating structure ever seen – and its angular momentum can be generated at absolutely mind-blowing scales.
Was it the pawn in the chest?
No, no, the shape is more like a tube that forms a space road. The giant in question is a cosmic filament – a long, cylindrical structure of dark matter, which extends through space, like a kind of bridge between clusters of galaxies. According to astronomers, these filaments are strands of a vast web, through which the galaxies and the material that make up the stars are channeled into the nodes of the cluster. The study was published June 14 in the journal Nature.
“By mapping the motion of galaxies on these huge cosmic highways using the Sloan Digital Sky survey [a survey of hundreds of thousands of galaxies], we found a remarkable property of these filaments: they rotate,” explained astrophysicist Peng Wang of the Leibniz Institute of Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), in Germany, during an interview with the Science Alert portal.
Entire galaxies can be found along this filament, not just within the clusters – this gives scientists a tool to identify rotational motion within the filament itself. These filaments are hundreds of millions of light years long, but only a few million light years across. On such large scales, you won’t be able to see galaxies actually moving, but as astronomers reminded you, light from a moving object still gives you away.
It is the Doppler effect – which causes changes in the wavelength of light depending on its movement towards or away from the observer. Light wavelengths from an approaching object will appear to shorten slightly towards the blue end of the spectrum, or blueshift and wavelengths of moving objects increase or shift to red.