Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astrophysicists Announce Superwinds Discovery

Date:
January 13, 1999
Source:
University Of Kansas
Summary:
Superwinds a hundred million light years long have helped to sculpture the universe, astrophysicists have announced. Although most people think of space as empty, it does, in fact, contain highly dilute gases. These gases, moving at incredible speeds, constitute the superwinds. They can span distances equal to about 1 percent of the size of the observable universe.

LAWRENCE -- Superwinds a hundred million light years long have helped to sculpture the universe, astrophysicists announced Jan. 7.

Although most people think of space as empty, it does, in fact, contain highly dilute gases. These gases, moving at incredible speeds, constitute the superwinds. They can span distances equal to about 1 percent of the size of the observable universe.

New evidence suggests that the winds follow the long axes of what astrophysicists call superclusters, say University of Kansas astrophysicists Adrian Melott and Dmitri Novikov.

Superclusters are the largest known building blocks of the universe. They are made up of smaller clusters of thousands of galaxies separated by long stretches of nearly empty space.

Melott, speaking on behalf of a team of seven researchers, today told a press conference at the American Astronomical Society annual meeting in Austin, Texas, that "this is our first detection of exactly the kinds of winds we think should accompany the flow of matter along the axes of superclusters.

"It looks like we are beginning to develop a good understanding of the formation of structure in the universe."

In the April 17, 1998, issue of the journal Science, Jack Burns, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Missouri, who also was involved in the research presented today, published his argument that as gas, stars and galaxies fall together into smaller clusters, the merger gives rise to local winds.

These local winds bend the jets of gas that stream out in opposite directions from the cores of some galaxies.

The jets -- thought to originate from giant black holes -- are sometimes bent into "U" or "V" shapes, Melott said. The jets usually don't exceed a million light years in length. The new research shows that the local winds blowing inside the clusters and bending the jets are, like the superwinds, oriented along the long axes of superclusters.

The research team believes that the superwinds feed matter into galactic clusters, Melott said, and determine the direction of the local winds in much the same way as a breeze on Earth determines the direction of smoke that rises from a chimney.

Melott said the team's discovery was based on an analysis of the direction of local winds that distort jets of gas in 12 different galactic clusters.

The team compared the local wind directions within the clusters with the alignment of other nearby galaxy clusters. They found that the nearby clusters were aligned with the flow of the wind inside the central cluster.

The odds that mere chance is responsible for that alignment are only about one in 50, Melott said, leaving the door open for the superwind explanation.

In addition to data taken from the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (a VLA radio telescope setup was shown in the recent movie "Contact") the group relied on information from other astronomers about distances to a variety of galactic clusters.

Melott said that University of Maine astronomers David Batuski and Chris Miller, using the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, ascertained previously undetermined distances to a number of the clusters.

Two KU undergraduates, Michael Kaufman, senior from McPherson, and Brian Wilhite, since graduated and from Olathe, also contributed to the research, Melott said.

Melott, commenting on the significance of the work, said, "We've had no evidence until now of the particular kinds of flows that bring about the structures we're looking at."

The findings announced today will be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a British journal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Kansas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Kansas. "Astrophysicists Announce Superwinds Discovery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/01/990113080636.htm>.
University Of Kansas. (1999, January 13). Astrophysicists Announce Superwinds Discovery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/01/990113080636.htm
University Of Kansas. "Astrophysicists Announce Superwinds Discovery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/01/990113080636.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) — NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX on Tuesday to build America's next spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017, opening the way to a new chapter in human spaceflight. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Picks Boeing and SpaceX to Ferry Astronauts

NASA Picks Boeing and SpaceX to Ferry Astronauts

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — NASA is a giant step closer to launching Americans again from U.S. soil. It has announced it has picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station in the next few years. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins