NASATMs Chandra X-ray Observatory has discovered two huge intergalactic clouds of diffuse hot gas. These clouds are the best evidence yet that a vast cosmic web of hot gas contains the long-sought missing matter - about half of the atoms and ions in the Universe.
Various measurements give a good estimate of the mass-density of the baryons - the neutrons and protons that make up the nuclei of atoms and ions - in the Universe 10 billion years ago. However, sometime during the last 10 billion years a large fraction of the baryons, commonly referred to as extordinary matters to distinguish them from dark matter and dark energy, have gone missing.
"An inventory of all the baryons in stars and gas inside and outside of galaxies accounts for just over half the baryons that existed shortly after the Big Bang," explained Fabrizio Nicastro of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and lead author of a paper in the 3 February 2005 issue of Nature describing the recent research. "Now we have found the likely hiding place of the missing baryons."
Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
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