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News Release Archive:

News Release 602 of 958

May 3, 2000 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2000-18

Lost and Found: Hubble Finds Much of the Universe's Missing Hydrogen

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Image: Quasar Beam Unveils Hidden Matter In Universe

Quasar Beam Unveils Hidden Matter In UniverseSTScI-PRC2000-18a Artist's Concept

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Astronomers detected vast filaments of invisible hydrogen by using the light of a distant quasar (core of active galaxy) to probe the dark space between the galaxies. The Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph found the spectral "fingerprints" of highly ionized intervening oxygen (which is a tracer of the hydrogen) superimposed on the quasar's light. Slicing across billions of light-years of space, the quasar's brilliant beam penetrated at least four separate filaments of the invisible hydrogen laced with the telltale oxygen. This filamentary structure is throughout the universe, all the way out to the distance of the quasar. For simplification, this graphic isolates the filamentary structure to a specific location along the line of sight to the quasar.

Image Type: Illustration

Illustration Credit: John Godfrey (STScI)

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