Dark 'Noodles' In The Milky Way Could Be Part Of Missing Matter

Astronomers have long been baffled as to why galaxies spin too fast. Now, CSIRO researchers were able to discover what may be a part of the missing matter that could answer that question, at least for the Milky Way: dark 'noodles.'

Aside from noodles, the Milky Way also appears to have other food-like structures floating around it. Researchers say the invisible structures may also be comparable to lasagna sheets or hazelnuts.

Aside from stimulating the appetite with such delectable-sounding descriptions, the discovery also challenges what is currently known about the gas condition of the galaxy.

"They could radically change ideas about this interstellar gas," says co-author Dr Keith Bannister.

To investigate, the researchers utilized a new technique using CSIRO's Compact Array telescope located in eastern Australia. They directed the telescope at a quasar known as PKS 1939-315 and found a lensing event.

A lensing event is an astronomical effect, which aids researchers to detect space objects including its shape and movements. However, the process behind it is hard to understand because existing techniques are not swift enough to identify such events.

"Radio emissions from distant quasars are occasionally modified for a few weeks by foreground interstellar plasma, in an extreme scattering event (ESE)," the authors wrote.

The researchers also went to use radio and optical telescopes while the lensing event was happening. They found no significant variations in the quasar's optical light. This finding is said to be vital as it signifies that previous optical surveys that searched for dark lumps could not have found the one his team identified.

The main question now is what could the lenses be? For one, the researchers think that the lenses are cold clouds of gas that are being held together by its own gravity.

Researchers knew nothing about the shape of the lenses until the recent investigation. They believe the lenses are about the same size as the Earth's orbit around the Sun. They also think that it is situated some 3,000 light years away.

Up until now, no one knows how the lenses could form but Bannister says these are real and their investigation may contribute significantly in determining its shape and size.

The study was published in the journal Science on Friday, Jan. 22.

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