Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The Universe trapped in its own web


Astronomers from the University of Nottingham, UK, and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (Spain), have found the first observational evidence that galaxies are not randomly oriented.

Instead, they are aligned following a characteristic pattern dictated by the large-scale structure of the invisible dark matter that surrounds them.

This discovery confirms one of the fundamental aspects of galaxy formation theory and implies a direct link between the global properties of the Universe and the individual properties of galaxies.

Galaxy formation theories predicted such an effect, but its empirical verification has remained elusive until now. The results of this work were published the 1 April issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Nowadays, matter is not distributed uniformly throughout space but is instead arranged in an intricate “cosmic web” of filaments and walls surrounding bubble-like voids. Regions with high galaxy concentrations are known as galaxy clusters whereas low density regions are termed voids.

This inhomogeneous distribution of matter is called the “Large-scale distribution of the Universe.” When the Universe is considered as whole, this distribution has a similar appearance to a spider’s web or the neural network of the brain. But it was not always like this.

After the Big Bang, when the Universe was much younger, matter was distributed homogeneously. As the Universe was evolving, gravitational pulls began to compress the matter in certain regions of space, forming the large-scale structure that we currently observe.

According to these models and theories a direct consequence of this process is that galaxies should be preferentially oriented perpendicularly to the direction of the linear filaments.

Several observational studies have looked for a preferential spatial orientation (or alignment) of galaxy rotation axes with respect to their surrounding large-scale structures. However, none of them have been successful, due to the difficulties associated with trying to characterise the filaments.

The research conducted by the astrophysical group formed by Ignacio Trujillo (University of Nottingham, UK), Conrado Carretero and Santiago G. Patiri, (both from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain) has been able to measure this effect, confirming theoretical predictions.

To achieve this goal, they used a new technique based on the analysis of the huge voids that are found in the large-scale structure of the Universe. These voids have been detected by searching for large regions of space depleted of bright galaxies.

In addition, they took advantage of information provided by the two largest sky surveys yet undertaken: the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Two Degree Field Survey. These surveys contain positional information for more than half a million galaxies located within a distance of one billion light-years of the Earth.

Other parameters provided by the surveys, such as the position angle and the ellipticity of the objects, were used to estimate the orientation of the disk galaxies.

“We found that there is an excess of disk galaxies that are highly inclined relative to the plane defined by the large-scale structure surrounding them,” explained Dr. Trujillo. “Their rotation axes are mainly oriented in the direction of the filaments.

“Our work provides important confirmation of the tidal torque theory which explains how galaxies have acquired their current spin,” said Trujillo.

“The spin of the galaxies is believed to be intrinsically linked to their morphological shapes. So, this work is a step forward on our understanding of how galaxies have reached their current shapes.”

Dr. Ignacio Trujillo has a research assistant position, funded by PPARC, in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Nottingham.

Peter Bond | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>