Our universe harbours several mysteries that scientists have been trying to resolve for centuries. Cosmic matter and its activities are still beyond our understanding. However, in the latest development, astronomers may have solved one of the biggest puzzles of the universe found the universe's "missing matter."
For decades, astronomers have been aware of the existence of "missing matter" of the universe. However, the origin and source of the strange aspect of the universe remained still undetected until now. The international team of researchers has now discovered from where the missing baryonic matter is located.
Now, the researchers used mysterious Fast radio bursts also known as FRBs— powerful millisecond bursts of radio pulse caused by mysteriously occurring high-energy astrophysical process—to find the matter, what causes them and where it can be traced back to. The scientists have now discovered all of the missing 'normal' matter in the vast space between stars and galaxies. The results of the study were published in a journal named Nature.
According to the report, the astronomers have been aware of the missing material for 30 years.
"We know from measurements of the Big Bang how much matter there was at the beginning of the Universe," Lead author Associate Professor Jean-Pierre Macquart, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) said in a news release statement. But when we looked out into the present Universe, we couldn't find half of what should be there. It was a bit of an embarrassment. Intergalactic space is very sparse. The missing matter was equivalent to only one or two atoms in a room the size of an average office."
The missing matter, in this case, is said to be baryonic or normal matter that is different from the dark matter of the universe comprising 85 percent of its total material. Unfortunately, for 20 years, the scientists were looking through the universe with very large telescopes and failed.
"The discovery of fast radio bursts and their localisation to distant galaxies were the key breakthroughs needed to solve this mystery," Co-author Professor J. Xavier Prochaska, from UC Santa Cruz said.
The key to completing their search was using the right telescope which turned out to be CSIRO's Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope. It is a radio telescope that is situated north of Perth in Australia. It is one of the best instruments in the world for mapping the sky at radio wavelengths. It has a large field of view and high-speed processing systems that allowed the scientists to "catch the bursts with relative ease and then pinpoint locations to their host galaxies with incredible precision," according to Associate Professor Ryan Shannon from Swinburne University of Technology.
In addition to their discovery, the international team of researchers was also able to draw a link between "how far away a fast radio burst is and how the burst spreads out as it travels through the Universe."