Have you heard of intergalactic filaments? They exist and basically consist of structures composed of cosmic gas that surround and connect galaxies and galactic clusters, forming a network that spans the Universe. For it is not difficult to imagine that objects of this type can reach extraordinary dimensions, but, according to Chelsea Gohd, from Space.com, a team of scientists from the University of Bonn, Germany, announced that they had identified the longest intergalactic filament of that is known – a monstrosity that spans at least 50 million light years.
According to Chelsea, the mega filament was discovered while scientists were making observations of a segment of the cosmos that houses a system composed of 3 galactic clusters located 700 million light years from us known as Abell 3391/95.
More specifically, the structure was identified through the eROSITA space telescope, from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, in Germany, which is endowed with components supersensitive to X-ray radiation – emitted by the gas that makes up the intergalactic filaments – capable of generating images in very high resolution of cosmic structures.
In fact, it was thanks to the capacity of the equipment that astronomers were able, in addition to studying the galaxies that form the clusters, to detect the immense filament that surrounds and connects the trio. After all, in addition to the distance from Earth, another difficulty that scientists face when observing structures like this is the fact that the particles that compose them are very dispersed, which makes them barely “visible”.
According to Chelsea, models and simulations pointed out that, just after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, a good part of the hydrogen that makes up the known matter in the Universe collapsed in sheets that, over time and with expansion of the cosmos, were “breaking” and forming the filaments.
Confirming the default model
Also according to Chelsea, the researchers estimate that intergalactic filaments gather more than half of all the matter that gives rise to stars and planets – and everything else in them, in fact – hence the importance of understanding these structures. The cool thing is that your observation supports the proposed standard model to explain the evolution of the Universe, which suggests that we are on the right path to continue unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos.