NASA has spotted the earliest strands of the universe, cosmic web

In its latest findings, NASA scientists have identified the earliest strands of the Cosmic web that, scientists believe, used to exist 830 million years after the big bang.

The new research finding has revealed that galaxies are not scattered randomly across the universe. They gather together not only into clusters, but into vast interconnected filamentary structures with gigantic barren voids in between. 

These newly identified filaments will further evolve into a massive cluster of galaxies, akin to the well-lnown Coma Cluster in the nearby universe, believes NASA scientists. It is believed that the ‘cosmic web’ originated as tenuous and became more distinct over time. 

About the age-old strands in the cosmic web

The thread-like arrangement of 10 galaxies that existed just 830 million years after the big bang. It was found that the 3 million light-year-long structure is anchored by an active galaxy, known as  luminous quasar. Such galaxies have an active, supermassive black hole at its core.

“I was surprised by how long and how narrow this filament is,” said team member Xiaohui Fan of the University of Arizona in Tucson. “I expected to find something, but I didn’t expect such a long, distinctly thin structure.”

“This is one of the earliest filamentary structures that people have ever found associated with a distant quasar,” added Feige Wang of the University of Arizona in Tucson, the principal investigator of this program.

NASA ASPIRE project aims to study Epoch of Reionization

The discovery was made from the ASPIRE project, A SPectroscopic survey of biased halos In the Reionization Era. The project is dedicate to study the cosmic environments of the earliest black holes. The main aim of the study is to study the environment of the earliest black holes. The program will observe 25 quasars. All these 25 qasars came into existence within the first billion years after the big bang. The time was known as the Epoch of Reionization.

“The last two decades of cosmology research have given us a robust understanding of how the cosmic web forms and evolves. ASPIRE aims to understand how to incorporate the emergence of the earliest massive black holes into our current story of the formation of cosmic structure,” explained team member Joseph Hennawi of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Updated: 01 Jul 2023, 07:48 AM IST

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