Eighty Percent of Light In The Universe Is Missing

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Eighty Percent of Light In The Universe Is Missing

For some reason, the universe is showing far more evidence of ultraviolet light sources than what we actually know exists.

In our day-to-day lives, there are a great many things we expect to go missing eventually. As it turns out, the rule also applies to the outer space, but instead of losing car keys or spare pens the universe is missing light. A lot of it.

"It's as if you're in a big, brightly lit room, but you look around and see only a few 40-watt lightbulbs," said Juna Kollmeier of the Carnegie Institution for Science. "Where is all that light coming from? It's missing from our census."

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, a $70 million instrument installed on the Hubble Space Telescope, was looking at the hydrogen rivers between galaxies when it noticed something odd: There was far more ionized hydrogen than originally expected. That's very strange because hydrogen ions are charged when struck by ultraviolet light, and there aren't enough light sources to account for the excess of 400%. That leaves two possibilities, both with significant implications: either 80% of the light that should be in the universe is unaccounted for, or something else is charging these ions.

"It's possible the simulations do not reflect reality," said Benjamin Oppenheimer of University of Colorado Boulder, "which by itself would be a surprise, because intergalactic hydrogen is the component of the universe that we think we understand the best."

And that's not even the strangest part. This discrepancy, whatever it may be, is only observable in our local cosmos. In the depths of space, where our universe still seems young, ultraviolet light correctly matches the amount of ionized hydrogen. In other words, whatever is stealing light in our sector of space has begun doing so fairly recently. "The simulations fit the data beautifully in the early universe, and they fit the local data beautifully if we're allowed to assume that this extra light is really there," Oppenheimer explained.

Scientists will be reviewing these results, but for now the cause behind our missing light is anyone's guess. If science-fiction has taught me anything though, it's either Galactus, the Daleks, or Mr. Burns' Sunblocker. Feel free to post your own theories in the comments!

Source: University of Colorado, via RT

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It's the Reapers, they're going around gobbling up stars to charge their power cells! :P

Seriously though...the only thing I can think of is a stupidly obvious theory that I'd imagine the scientists have already dismissed: light sources burn out. They said they noticed the trend in our area, but not in "younger" areas of the universe? That implies that our area is "older", and as such would have "older" stars...which in turn increases the likelihood of said stars burning out.

I'm, of course, no astro-physicist and have absolutely no scientific background or evidence to base this theory upon, but that simple explanation makes sense to me. :3

it's the fighting between the various lantern corps. they're using up all the light.

RJ 17:
It's the Reapers, they're going around gobbling up stars to charge their power cells! :P

Seriously though...the only thing I can think of is a stupidly obvious theory that I'd imagine the scientists have already dismissed: light sources burn out. They said they noticed the trend in our area, but not in "younger" areas of the universe? That implies that our area is "older", and as such would have "older" stars...which in turn increases the likelihood of said stars burning out.

I'm, of course, no astro-physicist and have absolutely no scientific background or evidence to base this theory upon, but that simple explanation makes sense to me. :3

No it's the older parts where the amount of light matches the theory of how the hydrogen rivers between galaxies works in our young part there is far less light than there should be.

youji itami:

RJ 17:
It's the Reapers, they're going around gobbling up stars to charge their power cells! :P

Seriously though...the only thing I can think of is a stupidly obvious theory that I'd imagine the scientists have already dismissed: light sources burn out. They said they noticed the trend in our area, but not in "younger" areas of the universe? That implies that our area is "older", and as such would have "older" stars...which in turn increases the likelihood of said stars burning out.

I'm, of course, no astro-physicist and have absolutely no scientific background or evidence to base this theory upon, but that simple explanation makes sense to me. :3

No it's the older parts where the amount of light matches the theory of how the hydrogen rivers between galaxies works in our young part there is far less light than there should be.

Then the article is worded poorly:

In the depths of space, where our universe still seems young, ultraviolet light correctly matches the amount of ionized hydrogen

I'm not saying you're wrong, since like I said: I have absolutely no scientific background. I just came here for fun and because space interests me...despite knowing (relatively speaking) little about it. :P

RJ 17:
It's the Reapers, they're going around gobbling up stars to charge their power cells! :P

Seriously though...the only thing I can think of is a stupidly obvious theory that I'd imagine the scientists have already dismissed: light sources burn out. They said they noticed the trend in our area, but not in "younger" areas of the universe? That implies that our area is "older", and as such would have "older" stars...which in turn increases the likelihood of said stars burning out.

I'm, of course, no astro-physicist and have absolutely no scientific background or evidence to base this theory upon, but that simple explanation makes sense to me. :3

Uh, wouldnt the star stop making ultra-violet light when it dies? And even if it's the leftover gas and dust from after it died that's making the UV light, we should still be able to see it.

Gundam GP01:

RJ 17:
It's the Reapers, they're going around gobbling up stars to charge their power cells! :P

Seriously though...the only thing I can think of is a stupidly obvious theory that I'd imagine the scientists have already dismissed: light sources burn out. They said they noticed the trend in our area, but not in "younger" areas of the universe? That implies that our area is "older", and as such would have "older" stars...which in turn increases the likelihood of said stars burning out.

I'm, of course, no astro-physicist and have absolutely no scientific background or evidence to base this theory upon, but that simple explanation makes sense to me. :3

Uh, wouldnt the star stop making ultra-violet light when it dies? And even if it's the leftover gas and dust from after it died that's making the UV light, we should still be able to see it.

Does ionized hydrogen ever "un-ionize"? Honestly I don't know so feel free to correct me with actual Science if you can. But if it retains it's charge then then we could be looking at some very old ionized hydrogen.

So the Reapers are using the UV in massive tanning beds? I thought Sovereign was looking especially bronzed...

well i think they are sending up a new telescope that is set to look solely at ultraviolet light after they found all those really old galaxies with the hubbel ultra deep field. guess we'll have to wait and see how many more are up there once its operational, maybe all that stretching of space made everything a lot more red than it used to me.

RJ 17:

Gundam GP01:

RJ 17:
It's the Reapers, they're going around gobbling up stars to charge their power cells! :P

Seriously though...the only thing I can think of is a stupidly obvious theory that I'd imagine the scientists have already dismissed: light sources burn out. They said they noticed the trend in our area, but not in "younger" areas of the universe? That implies that our area is "older", and as such would have "older" stars...which in turn increases the likelihood of said stars burning out.

I'm, of course, no astro-physicist and have absolutely no scientific background or evidence to base this theory upon, but that simple explanation makes sense to me. :3

Uh, wouldnt the star stop making ultra-violet light when it dies? And even if it's the leftover gas and dust from after it died that's making the UV light, we should still be able to see it.

Does ionized hydrogen ever "un-ionize"? Honestly I don't know so feel free to correct me with actual Science if you can. But if it retains it's charge then then we could be looking at some very old ionized hydrogen.

Okay, I actually read the article now.

They seem to be saying that when hydrogen atoms are struck by ultraviolet light, they turn from electrically neutral atoms to charged ions.

The problem is that they're seeing way too much hydrogen ions and way to few UV light sources to account for the hydrogen ions.

So we are looking at ionized hydrogen. but that doesnt solve the problem because ionized hydrogen cant ionize non ionized hydrogen.

Gundam GP01:

RJ 17:

Gundam GP01:

Uh, wouldnt the star stop making ultra-violet light when it dies? And even if it's the leftover gas and dust from after it died that's making the UV light, we should still be able to see it.

Does ionized hydrogen ever "un-ionize"? Honestly I don't know so feel free to correct me with actual Science if you can. But if it retains it's charge then then we could be looking at some very old ionized hydrogen.

Okay, I actually read the article now.

They seem to be saying that when hydrogen atoms are struck by ultraviolet light, they turn from electrically neutral atoms to charged ions.

The problem is that they're seeing way too much hydrogen ions and way to few UV light sources to account for the hydrogen ions.

So we are looking at ionized hydrogen. but that doesnt solve the problem because ionized hydrogen cant ionize non ionized hydrogen.

Which is why I'm asking if ionized hydrogen ever loses it's charge. If it doesn't, that's where the dead stars come into play: perhaps they helped feed the hydrogen while they were still burning but no longer do, becoming a "missing" light source.

Like I said, I don't know. But if that is actually the case the question becomes how long the hydrogen has been floating there in space. However I'm just some guy who only ever took basic science classes through high school and college, so take any possible "theories" I have to offer with the smallest modicum of salt. :P

RJ 17:
perhaps they helped feed the hydrogen while they were still burning but no longer do, becoming a "missing" light source.

The problem with this idea is that there aren't many stars that would have literally gone out around us visibly. Well, there are probably, but not that many relative to how many there are since the further away we look, the older that light reaching us is, and the fewer stars would have actually burned out. You'd never have so many stars burned out as to account for a 400% difference, especially when their models work for parts of the observable universe which look much younger to us. At least not without us having something fundamentally wrong when it comes to the life cycles of stars or how UV light charges hydrogen atoms (the latter being fairly unlikely). I'd guess that there being something else also charging the hydrogen is more likely, but I'm not exactly an expert. Maybe I'd just rather not think about the implications of 80% of the light in the universe being missing.

RJ 17:

youji itami:

RJ 17:
It's the Reapers, they're going around gobbling up stars to charge their power cells! :P

Seriously though...the only thing I can think of is a stupidly obvious theory that I'd imagine the scientists have already dismissed: light sources burn out. They said they noticed the trend in our area, but not in "younger" areas of the universe? That implies that our area is "older", and as such would have "older" stars...which in turn increases the likelihood of said stars burning out.

I'm, of course, no astro-physicist and have absolutely no scientific background or evidence to base this theory upon, but that simple explanation makes sense to me. :3

No it's the older parts where the amount of light matches the theory of how the hydrogen rivers between galaxies works in our young part there is far less light than there should be.

Then the article is worded poorly:

In the depths of space, where our universe still seems young, ultraviolet light correctly matches the amount of ionized hydrogen

I'm not saying you're wrong, since like I said: I have absolutely no scientific background. I just came here for fun and because space interests me...despite knowing (relatively speaking) little about it. :P

The universe actually looks younger the further you look out into space. Due to the fact that light travels at a constant (relatively slow on the cosmic space) speed, when you look out at an object in deep space, you're actually looking into the past, as that object was when it emitted the current particles of light your telescope is using to see it.

Like, if you look at a star 500 lightyears away, you're actually seeing it as it was 500 years ago when it first emitted those particles of light. If we see a star 1500 lightyears away go supernova, then we're actually see its death 1500 years after it happened. Our perception of it is just delayed due to time and distance.

It gets crazier when you look out into intergalactic space. The furthest object we've ever been able to see is a galaxy located about 13 billion lightyears away. When we look at it, we're seeing it as it was 13 billion years ago, a fairly short time after the Big Bang, by our current estimations. Being able to literally look back in time at ancient galaxies is one of the ways we've been able to make predictions about how our own galaxy formed, and what it might actually look like.

Of course, the fact that the expansion of the universe is getting faster screws with all of that in weird ways. Since light is having to travel through space that is constantly expanding, we can't actually see all the way back to the Big Bang itself. We can only see the parts of the universe whose light has reached us, and there's an unknown amount that just, hasn't yet.

RJ 17:

youji itami:

RJ 17:
It's the Reapers, they're going around gobbling up stars to charge their power cells! :P

Seriously though...the only thing I can think of is a stupidly obvious theory that I'd imagine the scientists have already dismissed: light sources burn out. They said they noticed the trend in our area, but not in "younger" areas of the universe? That implies that our area is "older", and as such would have "older" stars...which in turn increases the likelihood of said stars burning out.

I'm, of course, no astro-physicist and have absolutely no scientific background or evidence to base this theory upon, but that simple explanation makes sense to me. :3

No it's the older parts where the amount of light matches the theory of how the hydrogen rivers between galaxies works in our young part there is far less light than there should be.

Then the article is worded poorly:

In the depths of space, where our universe still seems young, ultraviolet light correctly matches the amount of ionized hydrogen

I'm not saying you're wrong, since like I said: I have absolutely no scientific background. I just came here for fun and because space interests me...despite knowing (relatively speaking) little about it. :P

I can explain the wording:

In deep space the universe seems young, because the light reaching us has travelled a long time, it shows us events that happened long ago, when the universe was younger.

The closer you get to us, the shorter time has passed, and the older the universe is at the time that light was sent out.

Our galaxy is however fairly young; the stars around us born much later than the old light reaching us from a younger universe.

Another possibility however is that it's caused by cosmic expansion, if the unaccounted for sources of the ultraviolet light that ionized the hydrogen were very distant stars, they could have passed beyond our light horizon, if the expansion is sufficiently fast(we already know it's speeding up, which would explain why it wasn't happening in the older universe).

I'm not saying it's dark matter, but it's dark matter

Also I went to that university!

I thought the intergalactic medium was supposed to be, aside from very thin, very hot - like hot well past the plasma ionization point.

Anyone ever seen the film "Vanishing on 7th Street?"

Only Hayden Christensen and John Leguizamo can save us now.

-Ezio-:
it's the fighting between the various lantern corps. they're using up all the light.

Nope, it's just one Lantern Corps. Damn you, Larfleeze.

rcs619:
Of course, the fact that the expansion of the universe is getting faster screws with all of that in weird ways. Since light is having to travel through space that is constantly expanding, we can't actually see all the way back to the Big Bang itself. We can only see the parts of the universe whose light has reached us, and there's an unknown amount that just, hasn't yet.

Actually, what we can see currently predates the existence of light by way of the Cosmic Microwave Background (or CMB) to give us a picture of the universe as early as 400k years after the Big Bang. If that already isn't there, it shouldn't be much longer until we can see the universe before even matter existed. The point is though, that we can see our universe from before there was light (of the visible spectrum), before hydrogen was pulling together and igniting solar fusion reactors.
It's really quite fascinating how there is so much more to see that is outside our visual range, for example temperature, metallic densities, dark-matter, electro-magnetic, radio, quite a lot out there that we cannot begin to see without instruments. What we can see is but a few grains of sand on an wide ocean.

RJ 17:
Does ionized hydrogen ever "un-ionize"? Honestly I don't know so feel free to correct me with actual Science if you can. But if it retains it's charge then then we could be looking at some very old ionized hydrogen.

Scientific Degree here: Yes, ionized gas does "un-ionize". The UV-light scatters the electrons off the atoms, but sooner or later they reacquire an electron and go back to neutral charge. It takes a while in our timescales, but happens in the blink of an eye as far as galaxies are concerned.

So... now we're having problems with some sort of invisible light? Shall we call it 'Dark Light' to go with all the invisible Dark Matter and Dark Energy that we've got hanging around?

RJ 17:

Gundam GP01:

RJ 17:
Does ionized hydrogen ever "un-ionize"? Honestly I don't know so feel free to correct me with actual Science if you can. But if it retains it's charge then then we could be looking at some very old ionized hydrogen.

Okay, I actually read the article now.

They seem to be saying that when hydrogen atoms are struck by ultraviolet light, they turn from electrically neutral atoms to charged ions.

The problem is that they're seeing way too much hydrogen ions and way to few UV light sources to account for the hydrogen ions.

So we are looking at ionized hydrogen. but that doesnt solve the problem because ionized hydrogen cant ionize non ionized hydrogen.

Which is why I'm asking if ionized hydrogen ever loses it's charge

Yes
plasma balls/Northen Lights are basically the same thing, it just takes longer because there is a lack of stuff to pawn energy off on to, so it has to radiate out.
When it loses enough energy(~1kev) it will stop being ionized.

Another JJ Abrams Star Trek will leave us in absolute darkness.

Um . . . we're not missing light, we're missing light *sources.* Big difference there.

dharmaBum0:
Another JJ Abrams Star Trek will leave us in absolute darkness.

The Doctor said he was going into Darkness. I think this is just a Doctor Who PR stunt.

It's the C'tan, clearly.

Shinkicker444:
It's the C'tan, clearly.

Yeah, yeah Burnsey, we believe you, trying to push the blame elsewhere.

Zykon TheLich:

Shinkicker444:
It's the C'tan, clearly.

Yeah, yeah Burnsey, we believe you, trying to push the blame elsewhere.

I'm quite sure I don't know what the devil you are talking about. >.>

Anti-light particles cancelling out the light perhaps? Lets call them notons.

Didn't they just observe photons essentially "time travelling" recently? Maybe this is where they're all going. (Joke.)
If it's related to dark matter, that would be really exciting. Perhaps this discovery will aid us in our research regarding that. I think I recall reading somewhere that a current theory regarding dark matter is that it is composed of quirky neutrinos, and somehow the decay of dark matter was related to x-rays. Perhaps this is related to something similar?
I'm not a scientist in the least though, so this probably doesn't make any sense. I love this sort of speculation though! Yeaaah space!

symphonymarie:
Didn't they just observe photons essentially "time travelling" recently? Maybe this is where they're all going. (Joke.)

that was confirmed to be a calculation/measurement error. they timed it wrong and thought it time traveled.

Did anyone else get completely distracted and a little worried when the article mentioned the scientist'a name? I'm not saying he's unfit for the job or anything but I'd be worried if I ever saw that man... with a hat-on.

It's the Shadow-Stealers...

We're experiencing light-sources from a long time ago from, say, stars that may have gone out. Our perception of time and what's there in the universe is delayed by distance. I say there are aliens draining the light-sources to feed themselves, thus we have our descrepency.

i reckon its just a bug in the simulation if we talk about it enough maybe the devs will sort out a hotfix in a few million years or so

..Yes! I know some of those words!

I really have no idea what is going on. Does this mean anything at all? Or am I just dumb?

Shinkicker444:
It's the C'tan, clearly.

The Yngir come to bring peace to the temporary chaos and pain that is life, space, time and eternity is the gift they will bring to those willing to shed fragile temporal mortality.

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