Real-time detection of an extreme scattering event: Constraints on Galactic plasma lenses
© Logan Campbell/Moment/Getty
An Australian team has detected lumps of invisible gas in the Milky Way that could be the key to unravelling a universal mystery that scientists have been working on for years.
In a paper published in Science, the scientists described how the lumpy structures worked like lenses and strengthening and weakening radio signals from far-off galaxies.
Using the Australia Telescope Compact Array, they were able to observe variation in radio signals from a distant quasar for more than a year and used that information to estimate the size and shape of the lenses.
“We could be looking at a flat sheet, edge on, or we might be looking down the barrel of a hollow cylinder like a noodle, or at a spherical shell like a hazelnut," Cormac Reynolds from Curtin University said in a press release.
The team believes these structures may provide part of the answer to the missing baryon problem – the approximate five per cent of the universe unaccounted for by known or dark matter.
- Science 351, 354–356 (2016). doi: 10.1126/science.aac7673
|CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), Australia||0.43|
|Manly Astrophysics, Australia||0.29|
|International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Australia||0.29|