First Ever Image Of Cosmic Web Released; Could Help Study Of Galaxy Formation

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Scientists have discovered a vast mysterious structure in space using European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. Scientists say the 'cosmic web' is a massive, mysterious structure, which is a link to far-flung galaxies. For the first time, scientists observed the cosmic web directly.

Cosmic Web Explained
 

Cosmic Web Explained

The cosmic web is an essential factor for the current theories of how galaxies were formed post the Big Bang. Until now, there were no direct observations and the evidence was circumstantial. Scientists observed that an ancient cluster of galaxies, situated nearly 12 billion light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius were linked by a network of gas filaments. An intensive observation developed to pick up the faintest known structures led to direct observation.

Cosmic Web Observed Directly

Cosmic Web Observed Directly

"It is very exciting to clearly see for the first time multiple and extended filaments in the early universe," says Prof Michele Fumagalli, an astrophysicist at Durham University and co-author of the paper. "We finally have a way to map these structures directly and to understand in detail their role in regulating the formation of supermassive black holes and galaxies."

Observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope revealed the light emitted by hydrogen scattered by the galaxies within a distant galactic cluster called SSA22. The telescope was able to identify individual filaments of intergalactic gas spanning young galaxies that formed a new cluster.

Cosmic Web Helps Understand Big Bang
 

Cosmic Web Helps Understand Big Bang

The new cosmic web observation aligns with the dark matter theory that formed the galaxy. This further assists in confirming that hydrogen gas formed during the Big Bang collapses into sheets, then to filaments, which are scattered across space. The cosmic web observation further suggests that these filaments in concentrated form keep feeding growing galaxies with a steady stream of gas.

According to Hideki Umehata, of the Riken Cluster for Pioneering Research and the University of Tokyo, and first author of the research, "This suggests very strongly that gas falling along the filaments under the force of gravity triggers the formation of starbursting galaxies and supermassive black holes, giving the universe the structure that we see today."

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