Cosmic Voids: Vast Empty Spaces Between Galaxy | ScienceMonk

Cosmic voids are vast empty spaces between galaxy filaments (galaxy filaments are the largest known structures in the universe) which contain few or no galaxies.

Cosmic Voids

Evidence of Cosmic Voids Containing Fewer Galaxies Leading Light to Less Penetrate In

The recent study in “Evidence for Large-scale Fluctuations in the Metagalactic Ionizing Background Near Redshift Six” revealed that the intergalactic space was loaded up with gas that was much less transparent than it presently is, with variations from place to place, about 12 billion years prior. 

The study was led by George D. Becker, a professor of astrophysics at the University of California Riverside, and others from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Their findings were published in The Astrophysical Journal.

According to the Big Bang Theory of cosmology, the Universe began around 13.8 billion years ago as a single point of infinite density. After a few billion years, the fundamental forces of the Universe began to act and started separating from each other to form subatomic particles and atoms after that.  And in this way the stars and galaxies formed first, offering to ascend to this large-scale structure of the Universe.

The universe started getting transparent roughly after 1 billion years of the big bang.  The intergalactic space was filled with gases about 12 billion years ago, that was much transparent than it is now with variations from place to place.

To know about cosmic voids existence, the team used the Subaru Telescope, the world’s largest telescope, located at the Maunakea Observatories in Hawaii, to examine a 500 million light-year volume of space as it existed roughly 12 billion years ago. Utilizing this data, the team considered two possible models that could account for the variations in transparency that astronomers have seen during this cosmic era.

On one hand, if the region contained a small number of galaxies, the team would conclude that starlight could not penetrate very far through the intergalactic gas, whereas on the other hand, if it contained an unusually large number of galaxies, this would indicate that the region had cooled significantly over the previous several hundred million years. Before their observations, Beck and his team were expecting it to be the latter.

Steven Furlanetto, a UCLA professor of astronomy and a co-author of the research, explained in a recent UCLA press release:

“It was a rare case in astronomy where two competing models both of which were compelling in their own way, offered precisely opposite predictions, and we were lucky that those predictions were testable. It is not that the opacity is a cause of the lack of galaxies. Instead, it is the other way around.”

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In addition to addressing an enduring mystery in astronomy, this examination also has implications for our understanding of how the Universe evolved with time. This research is also expected to reveal more insight into how the early Universe developed, step by step offering ascend to the one that we know about today gradually giving rise to the one that we are familiar with today.

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