Aussie Solves Universe’s Missing Mass Riddle

Dr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway, Amelia Fraser-McKelvie and Dr Kevin Pimbblet

Dr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway, Amelia Fraser-McKelvie and Dr Kevin Pimbblet

A young Australian undergraduate has been named lead author of a breakthrough scientific paper (“An estimate of the electron density in filaments of galaxies at z~0.1 abstract, full paper), due to the work she performed in uncovering the missing mass of the Universe!

Not a bad way to start your academic CV, eh?

Amelia Fraser-McKelvie, a 22-year old undergraduate at Monash University in Australia is studying Aerospace Engineering/Science, but on a summer scholarship at the School of Physics she worked with Kevin Pimbblet on an astrophysics project. The project was to try to find X-Ray’s coming from “Galaxy filaments“, the largest known cosmic structures, which were thought to contain at least part of the “missing mass” of the local Universe, estimated to be approximately the same as all the current known observable mass. As the filaments are thought to be a million degrees Centigrade, they should be emitting X-Rays.

In a moment of serendipity, Dr Lazendic-Galloway re-analysed the collected data and showed that the X-Ray’s were present, whereas they had previously been thought not to be. The work has been accepted for publication in the prestigious Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

How does this discovery of missing mass play into the theory of dark matter? Is the newly-discovered missing mass fill out the picture of “ordinary” matter, but still leave the Universe with a giant mass-deficit which requires the postulation of “dark matter”? The answer seems to be yes, this story isn’t about the missing mass of dark matter, but rather, “This is not a detection of dark matter. This is a claimed detection of the missing baryons in the form of a warm-hot intergalactic medium which is though to contribute around half the mass of normal matter in the Universe

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