Rivers of gas could provide part of universe's 'missing matter'

An Ohio astronomer and her colleagues have detected a type of hot gas in space that could account for part of the “missing” matter in the universe. A gas cloud, one trillion times more massive than our sun and more than 150 times hotter, surrounds our local group of galaxies, the astronomers reported in the journal Nature. Though vast, this gas cloud is only part of larger rivers of gas that wind between all the galaxies of the universe.

Surprising Image Revises Understanding of Dwarf Galaxies

An intensive study of a neighboring dwarf galaxy has surprised astronomers by showing that most of its molecular gas — the raw material for new stars — is scattered among clumps in the galaxy’s outskirts, not near its center as they expected. “This tells us that the galaxies we call dwarf irregulars are even more irregular than we thought,” said Fabian Walter, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, NM. “Our new work also shows that these galaxies probably are useful ‘laboratories’ for studying how stars were formed when the Universe was young,” Walter added.