It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Something is amiss in the Universe. There appears to be an enormous deficit of ultraviolet light in the cosmic budget.
The vast reaches of empty space between galaxies are bridged by tendrils of hydrogen and helium, which can be used as a precise "light meter." In a recent study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, a team of scientists finds that the light from known populations of galaxies and quasars is not nearly enough to explain observations of intergalactic hydrogen. The difference is a stunning 400 percent.
"It's as if you're in a big, brightly-lit room, but you look around and see only a few 40-watt lightbulbs," noted Carnegie's Juna Kollmeier, lead author of the study. "Where is all that light coming from? It's missing from our census."
Strangely, this mismatch only appears in the nearby, relatively well-studied cosmos. When telescopes focus on galaxies billions of light years away (and therefore are viewing the universe billions of years in its past), everything seems to add up. The fact that this accounting works in the early universe but falls apart locally has scientists puzzled.
The light in question consists of highly energetic ultraviolet photons that are able to convert electrically neutral hydrogen atoms into electrically charged ions. The two known sources for such ionizing photons are quasars -- powered by hot gas falling onto supermassive black holes over a million times the mass of the sun -- and the hottest young stars.
Observations indicate that the ionizing photons from young stars are almost always absorbed by gas in their host galaxy, so they never escape to affect intergalactic hydrogen. But the number of known quasars is far lower than needed to produce the required light.
"The great thing about a 400% discrepancy is that you know something is really wrong," commented co-author David Weinberg of The Ohio State University. "We still don't know for sure what it is, but at least one thing we thought we knew about the present day universe isn't true."
Whether the explanation is exotic or not, astronomers will be working hard to shed light on the mystery.
originally posted by: Rosinitiate
Maybe God left the porch light on so we can find our way home.
originally posted by: 3n19m470
Maybe the original sources of the light have died out, and the light they produced while active is still out there bouncing around? I dunno...
originally posted by: pikestaff
It might be that more light is being absorbed than produced, therefore the 'missing' light is not missing, but is now no more?
originally posted by: wildespace
Hmm, I've heard an expression "virtual photons", perhaps it's them popping into existence (perhaps from another dimension of even another universe) and lighting or ionising cosmic hydrogen?