Black Holes Banish Matter Into Cosmic Voids

Black Holes Banish Matter Into Cosmic Voids

We live in a universe dominated by unseen matter, and on the largest scales, galaxies and everything they contain are concentrated into filaments that stretch around the edge of enormous voids. Thought to be almost empty until now, a group of astronomers based in Austria, Germany and the United States now believe these dark holes could contain as much as 20% of the ‘normal’ matter in the cosmos, and that galaxies make up only 1/500th of the volume of the universe. The team, led by Dr Markus Haider of the Institute of Astro- and Particle Physics at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, publish their results in a new paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Looking at cosmic microwave radiation, modern satellite observatories like COBE, WMAP and Planck have gradually refined our understanding of the composition of the universe, and the most recent measurements suggest it consists of 4.9% ‘normal’ matter (i.e. the matter that makes up stars, planets, gas and dust), or ‘baryons’, whereas 26.8% is the mysterious and unseen ‘dark matter’, and 68.3% is the even more mysterious ‘dark energy’.

Complementing these missions, ground-based observatories have mapped the positions of galaxies and, indirectly, their associated dark matter over large volumes, showing that they are located in filaments that make up a ‘cosmic web’. Haider and his team investigated this in more detail, using data from the Illustris project, a large computer simulation of the evolution and formation of galaxies, to measure the mass and volume of these filaments and the galaxies within them.

► Read the full story>>

► The new work appears in “Large-scale mass distribution in the Illustris simulation”>>

► Image explanation. At left: A slab cut from the cube generated by the Illustris simulation. It shows the distribution of dark matter, with a width and height of 350 million light-years and a thickness of 300000 light years. Galaxies are found in the small, white, high-density dots. At right: The same slice of data, this time showing the distribution of normal, or baryonic matter. Credit: Markus Haider / Illustris collaboration

Further reading

► Illustris project>>

► Baryon>>

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