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A Cosmic Web Connecting the Universe Shapes Galaxies' Dark Matter

By: April Carson

Dark matter is one of the most mysterious substances in the universe. Scientists have been trying to figure out what it is for years, and they still don't know much about it. But new research suggests that dark matter may be shaped by a cosmic web that connects the universe.

The cosmic web is made up of gas and dark matter. It's what holds galaxies together. And it may be responsible for the strange behavior of dark matter.

For years, scientists have observed that dark matter doesn't behave like other kinds of matter. It doesn't emit light or interact with other forms of matter. And it seems to be distributed unevenly in the universe.

The cosmos we see before us is one of countless separate universes, each with its own set of physical laws regulating the formation and nature of celestial bodies. The universe is made up of a cosmic web woven from vast strands of dark matter and gas that span millions of light years and connect at "nodes" populated by dense clusters of galaxies. This huge network has several effects on galaxy distribution and development that scientists are attempting to understand using ever-better observations and complex computer simulations.

Callum Donnan and his colleagues have discovered a relationship between the chemical composition of galaxies and their position within the cosmic web, according to a paper published today in Nature Astronomy. The team found that "galaxies closer to nodes [show] higher chemical enrichment than those farther away," revealing some of the cosmos' unknown laws, according to a study published on Monday in Nature Astronomy.

It's been supposed for a long time that there is a link between how galaxies develop and their position in the cosmic web, according to Donnan. However, due to the necessity for extensive, dense spectroscopic surveys across much of the sky, obtaining experimental evidence has been tough. Results have started showing up recently, but before now it hadn't been investigated thoroughly how gas properties connect to the cosmic web.”

Donnan and his colleagues looked at galaxies within a billion light years of the Milky Way observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey in New Mexico, which covers a large stretch of sky. The physical condition of metallicity in gas-phase inside these actual-life galaxies, also known as gas-phase metallicity, was investigated by the team.

The researchers discovered that galaxies closer to the web's nodes were richer in "metals," which refers to any element heavier than helium in astronomy. A weaker connection was also seen between proximity to the web's filaments and richness in “metals,” which is a term used by scientists for anything heavier than helium. The team utilized IllustrisTNG, a sophisticated cosmological simulation software, to validate the findings.

Additionally, the research indicated that a galaxy's location in the cosmic web influences its chemical makeup, even when other variables are considered, such as a particular region in the cosmos' density.

“We were aware there was a link between galaxies and their environment,” Donnan added. “However, we weren't sure what to anticipate due to the numerous physical processes at play here. There has been some evidence in the past that galaxies in overabundant regions of the universe are chemically enhanced, but nothing on this grand scale.”

Naturally, this leads to the question of why galaxies in close proximity to nodes are more metallically rich than those elsewhere in the cosmic web. Donnan's team identified two key reasons for this connection: interstellar gas absorption and stellar and dark matter evolution inside of galaxies.

Galaxies consume gas that is flung throughout space in the intergalactic medium, but those that are further away absorb far more of this outside material than those near nodes. Because intergalactic gas is metal-poor, it dilutes the enriched gas of remote galaxies, lowering their overall metallicities. Galaxies near nodes don't take as much of this metal-poor stuff, which helps to keep them chemically brightened with greater amounts of heavier metals.

The NGC 5253 Cluster, which is about 26 million light years away from Earth in the constellation of Eridanus (The River), is one of them. In addition, galaxies that are close to nodes seem to have developed earlier than those located at a greater distance. These galaxies had a head start in creating new stars and gathering dark matter, which is an enigmatic substance that accounts for most of the existence in the universe.

“We believe that galaxies close to nodes had more active star formation in the past, and other research has shown that galaxies near to nodes formed their dark matter faster. We propose that this shows a link between the universe's fundamental assembly structure and gas metallicity through increased early star formation,” Donnan explained.

Given the scale and intricacies of these astronomical interactions, determining these intricate connections between the cosmic web and galaxy evolution may be tough. In their research, Donnan and his colleagues call their findings "a significant first step toward that goal," but they also acknowledge that future technologies will help to clarify these questions. The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), which is expected to be finished in the mid-2020s, will assist us in revealing some of the mysterious connections between this colossal cosmic structure and the galaxies that surround it.

“We'll have spectra for an order of magnitude more galaxies with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), which will allow us to continue pushing this question and begin to untangle the ways in which the cosmic web affects galaxy evolution,” Donnan added. “We'll be able to see this impact further back in time with DESI, allowing us to see how the role of the cosmic web in galaxy evolution changes over time.”

“The overall objective is to try and assemble a complete picture of galaxy evolution, and we've shown that it's necessary to consider the cosmic web in order to do this.”

“One of the most appealing features about this work is that it can be used to help other scientists understand what they are studying, without requiring them to possess specialized knowledge. If you try to connect how the universe's large-scale architecture develops with how galaxies form, it can assist you comprehend cosmology as a whole. This links physics on the largest scales and on smaller galactic levels together.”

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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