When scientists calculate the amount of matter that should exist in the universe, their estimates still far outweigh the amount of material they actually counted.
The consensus, in fact, is that we miss about a third of the material that should be out.
But thanks to a new scanning technique of the cosmos, scientists think they have finally spotted all this missing stellar content.
For clarity, this research has nothing to do with dark matter, the invisible substance that makes up about 85% of the matter in the universe. On the contrary, the team of astronomers from Harvard and the Hungarian University of Eötvös discovered the disappearance luminous matter, which composes all the stars, planets and other celestial objects of the universe.
According to a recently published study, a preliminary version has been published on the pre-print server ArXiv In December, scientists used NASA's Orbital Chandra X-Ray observatory to search for gas clouds in the space surrounding a far-off black hole. In these clouds, they found previously unexplained masses of oxygen. By extrapolating to the amount of similar clusters of gas that exist, astronomers think they can explain the difference between calculations and observations in the universe.
"We were delighted to be able to recover some of this missing material," said Randall Smith, astronomer of the Harvard & Smithsonian Astrophysics Center (CfA), who worked on the study, in a new statement. press. "In the future, we will be able to apply this same method to other quasar data to confirm that this long-standing mystery has finally been solved."
Further studies are needed to confirm that these new discoveries may actually justify the haughty extrapolation that scientists make in their article. But if this work holds, it means that scientists have finally solved one of the most confusing mysteries of the universe.
"If we find this mass missing, we will be able to solve one of the biggest astrophysical problems," said CfA astrophysicist Orsolya Kovacs, in the same press release. "Where did the universe hide so much of its material that makes up objects like stars, planets and us?"