Scientists believe that approximately 5% of the universe is made up of ordinary matter, based on measurements taken from the background radiation left over by the Big Bang. This type of matter makes up ourselves, the planets, stars and galaxies.
Adding these figures together however has only accounted for up to 10% of the expected amount – leading scientists to continually question where the rest of the matter is in the universe? For many years, the problem known as the ‘missing baryon problem’ has troubled scientists.
Now, it seems scientists have finally made a break in their quest, with 2 separate teams discovering a partial solution. The solution is related to the theoretical existence of ‘gaseous threads’ which link clusters of galaxies together. This is known as the ‘warm hot intergalactic medium’, or ‘WHIM’ for short.
Detecting these threads has proven to be a challenge for some time, however it seems scientists now have evidence of their existence.
The discovery now suggests that at least 30% of all the ordinary matter contained in the universe can be located in these threads.
“These two papers have been very prominently discussed and people are excited,” said Richard Ellis, a professor of astrophysics at the University College London. “The Whim is out there.”