Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ESA’s XMM-Newton gains deep insights into the distant Universe

15.07.2003


Using XMM-Newton, astronomers have obtained the world’s deepest ‘wide screen’ X-ray image of the cosmos to date. Their observations show newly discovered clusters of galaxies and provide insights into the structure of the distant Universe…



Unlike grains of sand on a beach, matter is not uniformly spread throughout the Universe. Instead, it is concentrated into galaxies like our own which themselves congregate into clusters. These clusters are ‘strung’ throughout the Universe in a web-like structure. Astronomers have studied this large-scale structure of the nearby Universe but have lacked the instruments to extend the search to the large volumes of the distant Universe.

Thanks to its unrivalled sensitivity, in less than three hours, ESA’s X-ray observatory XMM-Newton can see back about 7000 million years to a cosmological era when the Universe was about half its present size, and clusters of galaxies more tightly packed. Marguerite Pierre, CEA Saclay, France, with a European and Chilean team, used this ability to search for remote clusters of galaxies and map out their distribution.


The work heralds a new era of studying the distant Universe. The optical identification of clusters shows only the galaxies themselves. However, X-rays show the gas in between the galaxies – which is where most of the matter in a cluster resides. This is like going from seeing a city at night, where you only see the lighted windows, to seeing it during the daytime, when you finally get to see the buildings themselves.

Tracking down the clusters is a painstaking, multi-step process. In tandem with XMM-Newton, the team uses the four-metre Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to take an optical snapshot of the same region of space. A tailor-made computer program combs the XMM-Newton data looking for concentrations of X-rays that suggest large, extended structures. These are the clusters and represent only about 10% of the detected X-ray sources (the others are mostly distant active galaxies).

When the program finds a cluster, it zooms in on that region and converts the XMM-Newton data into a contour map of X-ray intensity, which it then superimposes on the CFHT optical image. The astronomers use this to check if anything is visible within the X-ray emission. If it is, the work then shifts to one of the world’s largest telescopes, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope where the astronomers identify the individual galaxies in the cluster and take ‘red-shift’ measurements. These give a measurement of the cluster’s distance.

In this way, Pierre and colleagues are mapping the distribution of galaxy clusters of the distant Universe, for the first time in astronomy. "Galaxy clusters are the largest concentrations of matter in the Universe and XMM-Newton is extremely efficient at finding them," says Pierre.

Although the task is still a work in progress, first results seem to confirm that the number of clusters 7000 million years ago is little different from that of today. This behaviour is predicted by models of the Universe that expand forever and drive the galaxy clusters further and further apart.

Eventually, it will be possible for the team to use their results to determine whether the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, as indicated by some other recent observations, or decelerating, as traditionally thought.

Monica Talevi | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEM6SHXO4HD_Expanding_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology
22.08.2017 | Université libre de Bruxelles

nachricht Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>