What if someone told you that almost a third of the matter in the Universe was missing? Not dark matter or dark energy. Regular, ordinary matter that makes up everything we can see. This was the reality until 2020 when astronomers found the missing matter hiding in intergalactic space.
The intergalactic medium is the ‘almost’ invisible material that fills most of space. It is a vital part of the Universe and is fundamental to understanding how galaxies grow and change over time. However, the intergalactic medium has been challenging to detect, to the point that parts of it were ‘missing’. I will tell the story of this previously missing matter, why it was so hard to find and how the mysterious fast radio bursts were crucial to solving the mystery.
Adam is an astrophysics PhD candidate at the Swinburne University of Technology. His research involves using computer simulations of the Universe to understand the wispy, tenuous gas outside of galaxies, otherwise known as the intergalactic medium.