Dark 'noodles' may lurk in the Milky Way

January 21, 2016, CSIRO Australia
CSIRO's Compact Array in Australia is shown under the night lights of the Milky Way. Credit: Alex Cherney

Invisible structures shaped like noodles, lasagne sheets or hazelnuts could be floating around in our Galaxy radically challenging our understanding of gas conditions in the Milky Way.

CSIRO astronomer and first author of a paper released in Science Dr Keith Bannister said the structures appear to be 'lumps' in the thin gas that lies between the stars in our Galaxy.

"They could radically change ideas about this interstellar gas, which is the Galaxy's star recycling depot, housing material from old stars that will be refashioned into new ones," Dr Bannister said.

Dr Bannister and his colleagues described breakthrough observations of one of these 'lumps' that have allowed them to make the first estimate of its shape.

The observations were made possible by an innovative new technique the scientists employed using CSIRO's Compact Array telescope in eastern Australia.

Astronomers got the first hints of the mysterious objects 30 years ago when they saw radio waves from a bright, called a quasar varying wildly in strength.

They figured out this behaviour was the work of our Galaxy's invisible 'atmosphere', a thin gas of electrically charged particles which fills the space between the stars.

"Lumps in this gas work like lenses, focusing and defocusing the , making them appear to strengthen and weaken over a period of days, weeks or months," Dr Bannister said.

These episodes were so hard to find that researchers had given up looking for them.

But Dr Bannister and his colleagues realised they could do it with CSIRO's Compact Array.

Pointing the telescope at a quasar called PKS 1939-315 in the constellation of Sagittarius, they saw a lensing event that went on for a year.

Astronomers think the lenses are about the size of the Earth's orbit around the Sun and lie approximately 3000 light-years away - 1000 times further than the nearest star, Proxima Centauri.

Until now they knew nothing about their shape, however, the team has shown this lens could not be a solid lump or shaped like a bent sheet.

"We could be looking at a flat sheet, edge on," CSIRO team member Dr Cormac Reynolds said.

"Or we might be looking down the barrel of a hollow cylinder like a noodle, or at a spherical shell like a hazelnut."

Getting more observations will "definitely sort out the geometry," he said.

While the lensing event went on, Dr Bannister's team observed it with other radio and optical telescopes.

The optical light from the quasar didn't vary while the radio lensing was taking place. This is important, Dr Bannister said, because it means earlier optical surveys that looked for dark lumps in space couldn't have found the one his team has detected.

So what can these lenses be? One suggestion is cold clouds of that stay pulled together by the force of their own gravity. That model, worked through in detail, implies the clouds must make up a substantial fraction of the mass of our Galaxy.

Nobody knows how the invisible lenses could form. "But these structures are real, and our observations are a big step forward in determining their size and shape," Dr Bannister said.

Explore further: Astronomers spy on galaxies in the raw

More information: "Real-time detection of an extreme scattering event: Constraints on Galactic plasma lenses," DOI: 10.1126/science.aac7673

Related Stories

Astronomers spy on galaxies in the raw

June 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —A CSIRO radio telescope has detected the raw material for making the first stars in galaxies that formed when the Universe was just three billion years old—less than a quarter of its current age. This opens ...

CSIRO telescope takes temperature of Universe

January 23, 2013

(Phys.org)—Using the CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, NSW, an international team from Sweden, France, Germany and Australia has measured how warm the Universe was when it was half its current age.

Galaxy's snacking habits revealed

May 20, 2015

A team of Australian and Spanish astronomers have caught a greedy galaxy gobbling on its neighbours and leaving crumbs of evidence about its dietary past.

Recommended for you

Saturn hasn't always had rings

January 17, 2019

One of the last acts of NASA's Cassini spacecraft before its death plunge into Saturn's hydrogen and helium atmosphere was to coast between the planet and its rings and let them tug it around, essentially acting as a gravity ...

30 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HannesAlfven
2.7 / 5 (14) Jan 21, 2016
There are so many embedded assumptions and so much confused terminology in this article that I am quite sure that there is no learning possible with this press release. It also raises many more questions than it answers about astrophysical lensing.

What a mess.
Benni
2.5 / 5 (16) Jan 21, 2016
If they would have just declared DARK MATTER, then the shouting would have been done with before it even started. Now we're likely to have protracted narratives about how this proves something Zwicky never contemplated.
promile
Jan 21, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antigoracle
2.8 / 5 (13) Jan 21, 2016
Someone lost their noodles.
abecedarian
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 21, 2016
I'd think, were this a gravitational effect, visible as well as radio emissions would have been affected. Since they're not, perhaps the structure, or combination of structures, is operating similarly to a tuned cavity whose arrangement results in resonances that interfere with the radio signals similar to how to audible frequencies can interfere and cause "beat" oscillations.

SnowballSolarSystem _SSS_
1.9 / 5 (13) Jan 21, 2016
The discovery of apparently gravitationally-bound Earth-mass (1E-6 solar mass) blobs of gas (circa 1 AU radius), traveling at 100s of km/s wrt the interstellar gas and vastly outnumbering the stars in the Milky Way is to me the most astounding astrophysical proposition of my lifetime.

manlyastrophysics dot org

Don't like it, "well would you believe hydrogen snowflakes condensing into exceedingly unstable comets that explosively sublime to create the spherically-symmetrical Interstellar Scintillation and Extreme Scattering Events". Oh, and the team goes a long way to proving that the effect has to be caused by a spherical object traveling 100s of km/s relative to the interstellar gas.
Steelwolf
2.1 / 5 (11) Jan 21, 2016
Actually, if you start comparing galaxy formation with such things as Quantum Knots, such as shown at:

http://www.nature...624.html

And if this is the case, with magnetism and matter, this 'this electrified gas' could be forming toroidal type orbits, as has been seen in other recent articles showing mixing of inner galactic and outer galactic stellar compositions in orbits that would, actually form objects like described on the galactic scale, as with NCG_1275 and surrounding galaxies in the cluster.

Could galaxies be Soliton Knots in full 3D, at massive scale and, to it, extremely low temperature once time is re-scaled for the size? Could soliton knots be a starting point for Fusion Reactions? Could the Quantum Knot model resolve the speed of stars in a galaxy conundrum that we have answered with 'Dark Energy and Mass'?
malapropism
3 / 5 (12) Jan 21, 2016
Oh, come on people, the article starts with a line as wonderful as
structures shaped like noodles, lasagne sheets or hazelnuts could be floating around in our Galaxy
and nobody references the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Pastafarianism in the comments?! (Clearly, the structures seen must be his noodly appendages and giant balls, stated by the Church of the FSM as being larger than those of the Christian god.)
jonesdave
2.5 / 5 (15) Jan 21, 2016
Hey, space noodles work for me. Better than EU BS ever has, anyway. Published any bollo........papers recently chaps? Or is it still all on boobtube? Who is doing peer review on there these days?
yep
2.6 / 5 (10) Jan 21, 2016
Hey, space noodles work for me. Better than EU BS ever has, anyway. Published any bollo........papers recently chaps? Or is it still all on boobtube? Who is doing peer review on there these days?

One day your noodle will stretch enough to understand plasma bubbles are pretty much everywhere.
Mike_Massen
3.2 / 5 (18) Jan 22, 2016
Benni still unable to appreciate Algebra in AstroPhysics or asymptotic progress of Science
If they would have just declared DARK MATTER, then the shouting would have been done with before it even started
Tell us Benni, about lab experience in your claimed Electrical Engineering degree re investigation into unknowns Eg filter reactances in Electrical power systems ie Algebra ! Benni ?

Benni went on attacking poor Zwicky trying to boost his own ego
Now we're likely to have protracted narratives about how this proves something Zwicky never contemplated
How is it possible to make a claim or even imagine what Zwicky contemplated as its clear contemplation doesn't necessitate (written) reporting ?

Your *only* pattern Benni on these forums appears is criticizing others & without even *basic* Physics & *any* Maths, Y so transparent ?

Why idle complaint, asked you before but, still completely unable to articulate your position re Newtons/Einsteins gravitation ?
mrbeardy13
3 / 5 (2) Jan 22, 2016
Surely noodles arent hollow? Maybe he meant rigatoni or penne.

Dr Reynolds must have been hungry when he was interviewed.
viko_mx
1.8 / 5 (10) Jan 23, 2016
"Nobody knows how the invisible lenses could form. "But these structures are real, and our observations are a big step forward in determining their size and shape," Dr Bannister said."

The structure of vacuum of space programed with different optical properties.
The universe is programmed machine.
RealityCheck
2.5 / 5 (8) Jan 23, 2016
Hi Uncle Ira. :)

See what I alluded to regarding recent improved obsrvational tools/techniques confirming what I have tried to explain all along: that the "Dark Matter" is NOT "exotic" NON-baryonic "stuff"; but actually yet-to-be-detected "normal" Baryonic matter which had escaped detection because our light-based sensing was inadequate until now. I was working from known science, not speculating like the "exotic" DM enthusiasts were, because they were so "certain" that they "knew" the quantity of "ordinary" matter "out there" between the stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies and inter-cluster deepest space.

It's about time everyone stood back, took a deep breath, and reconsidered all past ASSUMPTIONS/INTERPRETATIONS that have crept into COSMOLOGY/PHYSICS hypotheses/theories because of past SPECULATIVE misleading mainstream claims/beliefs rooted in orthodoxy "certainties" that were arrogant/unfounded.

Good luck re-setting your own certainties/beliefs, Ira et al. Cheers. :)
promile
Jan 23, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Mike_Massen
3.1 / 5 (15) Jan 24, 2016
viko_mx claims
The structure of vacuum of space programed with different optical properties
Prove it, ie that the presence of mass eg plasma, gas etc are NOT affecting them ?

viko_mx says
The universe is programmed machine
Ah so us as being made of matter from the "programmed machine" therefore is fully & completely derministic and therefore all is for ever predictable down to the smallest minuscule part.

The conclusion of your claim then viko_mx is clearly Free will cannot exist !

Which means the god you imagine exists is a demented incompetent loon which & is easily proven due to his works of Nature where only the fittest survive ie Brutal, ie Very Nasty !

Or show us viko_mx, that Nature, as god's key works, is not programmed to kill & eat all ?

ie. viko_mx your god has been proven to be an utter Devil & not worthy of "gravitas" :P
AGreatWhopper
2.5 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2016
Dr Cormac Reynolds


Is the most pandering anthropomorphizing git it has ever been my displeasure to read.

Still, I'll bet his turds have more social awareness and usefulness than viko_mx. Dumb shit, the universe has no intelligence. If it did, you wouldn't be here. That trolls like you exist show it to be simply a matter of numbers and blind chance. But, then, self-aggrandizing arm chair theorizers never have any concept of scale.
MalleusConspiratori
2.1 / 5 (7) Jan 24, 2016
Oh, come on people, the article starts with a line as wonderful as
structures shaped like noodles, lasagne sheets or hazelnuts could be floating around in our Galaxy
and nobody references the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Pastafarianism in the comments?! (Clearly, the structures seen must be his noodly appendages and giant balls, stated by the Church of the FSM as being larger than those of the Christian god.)


If there's no intelligent design, then why is human DNA shaped like fusilli pasta?
antonima
1 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2016
Der, I like how they can make me relate to their scientific discovery. I sure knows what noodle! And Lasagna sheet, and hazelnut! This is great, I think this will really explain it!
baudrunner
5 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2016
One suggestion is cold clouds of gas that stay pulled together by the force of their own gravity. That model, worked through in detail, implies the clouds must make up a substantial fraction of the mass of our Galaxy.
About 24% of it, actually. I keep saying, you can't see helium, it doesn't react.
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2016
@ Really-Skippy. How you are Cher? I am just as fine as always, thanks for asking. Sorry it took me so long to get back to answering you back. I over "looked"/"missed"/"did"/"not"/"see"/"this"/"one".

All that stuffs I will just have to take your word for it. Sounds like gobbledygook to me. But then I am not the real scientist like you are not either.

Good luck re-setting your own certainties/beliefs, Ira et al. Cheers. :)


Thanks but I don't need any luck to settle my own certainties, they are pretty settled and when they get unsettled that is fine too. I only got a very few certainties that matter much, the other ones come and go.

I am not worried about my beliefs none either, they aren't important to anybody but me, oh yeah, and maybe my dog too. They don't seem to be causing much trouble and if they become unsettling, then Mrs-Ira-Skippette lets me know real quick to start believing something else.
RealityCheck
2.7 / 5 (7) Jan 24, 2016
@ Uncle Ira. :)

How you are, cher? I'm well as could be expected given my age/health, thanks for asking.

Sorry to hear about the unusually extreme/widespread snow storms up in your neck of the woods. Is the power/utilities/transport etc infrastructure affected much in your area?

About your certainties and beliefs: The set of these forms in your brain-mind what is called your 'world construct', and affects your interaction/perception with/of other people and their 'world construct' (as far as theirs has been communicated to you and as far as you may understand same to best of your ability). So you shouldn't treat the matter as lightly as your response indicates.

Anyway, since you asked, I will tell you: Yes, I was correct all along. :)

The experts who were enamored with the concept/cop-out of 'exotic' DM are now finding that out for themselves; as new discoveries come in; and as they review long known scientific data which I've been working from all along.

Cheers. :)
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2016
That's a whole for me to cover in just one postum so I will probably have to use two. Sorry about that.

@ Uncle Ira. :)

How you are, cher? I'm well as could be expected given my age/health, thanks for asking.

I got the special affinity for peoples as they get older. I wish for you only peace as you age Cher, I mean that.

Sorry to hear about the unusually extreme/widespread snow storms up in your neck of the woods. Is the power/utilities/transport etc infrastructure affected much in your area?


Non, my area is fine, but it did get bad more to the north. We did not have non trouble on the river though. But hooyeei, in the east they get hit with the historic snow storm for the mid-Atlantic states. They still digging out.

But that's okay, the Tea-Party-Skippy couyons assure me it don't have nothing to do with climate change, it's all Obama-Skippy's fault and he will be gone about this time next year.
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2016
About your certainties and beliefs: The set of these forms in your brain-mind what is called your 'world construct', and affects your interaction/perception with/of other people and their 'world construct' (as far as theirs has been communicated to you and as far as you may understand same to best of your ability). So you shouldn't treat the matter as lightly as your response indicates.

Cher, what I am certain about is subject to change at any moment. The world will not notice me changing my mind.

Anyway, since you asked, I will tell you: Yes, I was correct all along. :)

Congratulations on that. Do you get a prize?

The experts who were enamored with the concept/cop-out of 'exotic' DM are now finding that out for themselves; as new discoveries come in; and as they review long known scientific data which I've been working from all along.

Tell it true podna, we got a lot of experts here on the physorg who love to see them selfs writing exotic stuffs.
RealityCheck
2.5 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2016
Hi Ira. :)
I got the special affinity for peoples as they get older. I wish for you only peace as you age Cher, I mean that.
Same to you and yours, sincerely, mate.
Non, my area is fine, but it did get bad more to the north. We did not have non trouble on the river though. But hooyeei, in the east they get hit with the historic snow storm for the mid-Atlantic states. They still digging out. But that's okay, the Tea-Party-Skippy couyons assure me it don't have nothing to do with climate change, it's all Obama-Skippy's fault and he will be gone about this time next year.
Tea Party/GOP self-serving dullards and ideologues can't seem to grasp the scientifically demonstrable fact that increased warming/evaporation from ocean/land will make ALL prior storm systems/patterns worse; producing more snow/rain/winds/tornados etc., and increasingly do so even out of season/more widespread; becoming 'the new norm' and not so 'rare/infrequent' as before.

cont...
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2016
Tea Party/GOP self-serving dullards and ideologues can't seem to grasp the scientifically..


Thinking about complicated things hurts their hair, especially if they have to include stuffs as far in the future as next week.
RealityCheck
2.7 / 5 (7) Jan 24, 2016
...cont @Ira:
Cher, what I am certain about is subject to change at any moment.
Yes, it's good to keep an open mind; especially when even the 'experts' differ/are wrong (more especially if they don't realize it). Just keep plugging away and don't acquire hasty certainties/beliefs based on 'source/person'; only on the scientifically/logically tenable realities/facts themselves, without 'prejudice/bias' of any kind.

The world will not notice me changing my mind.
You'd be surprised; especially in Internet Age of global communication/comprehension and immediate checking of facts regardless of 'source/person'.

...Yes, I was correct all along. :)
Congratulations on that. Do you get a prize?
Fortunately, I have been atheist/scientist since age 9. I've been scrupulously objective, independent, immune to publish-or-perish' etc imperatives. My motivation is not money/glory.

Curiosity/Duty/Legacy are my only drivers; ie: "l'Homme n'est Rien; l'Oeuvre Tout". :)
RealityCheck
2.7 / 5 (7) Jan 24, 2016
...cont further@ Ira:
experts who were enamored with the concept/cop-out of 'exotic' DM are now finding that out for themselves; as new discoveries come in; and as they review long known scientific data which I've been working from all along.
Tell it true podna, we got a lot of experts here on the physorg who love to see them selfs writing exotic stuffs. Neither experts/laypersons can claim to be posting anything scientifically tenable unless they've been scrupulously objective/independent in their research/comprehension of the reality as discovered by the experimentalists/observers and theorists who do not get lost in abstractions thinking they are still in the real world of real physics/cosmology. Always check all available facts for yourself. Do not accept 'on faith' what anyone on the net/in mainstream tells you unless it makes sense to you in a genuinely conmprehending and informed way, and not just because 'it fits' some abstract/unreal 'interpretation'. :)
RealityCheck
3 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2016
Hi Ira. :)
Tea Party/GOP self-serving dullards and ideologues can't seem to grasp the scientifically..
Thinking about complicated things hurts their hair, especially if they have to include stuffs as far in the future as next week.
A very perspicacious observation on your part, Ira. But you have the advantage over me because of 'local knowledge' and 'direct exposure' to them up in your neck of the woods. From here Down Under in OZ, I can only go by what they have been saying and doing that ends up being wrong on so many levels that I have to wonder "what's in the water" up there which produces such maniacs and dullards that are drawn to Tea Party/GOP 'mission to mess up' even the simplest issue!

Anyhow, gotta go now, Ira...."l'Oeuve" awaits 'lHomme's" attention to finish it all before "l'Homme" kicks "l'Bucket"! Stay safe; you and yours. :)
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2016
Stay safe; you and yours. :)


You too Cher. Good luck on your project(s).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.