Illustris simulation, showing the distribution of dark matter in 350 million by 300,000 light years. Galaxies are shown as high-density white dots (left) and as normal, baryonic matter (right). Credit: Markus Haider/Illustris

Are Supermassive Black Holes Hiding Matter?

29 Feb , 2016 by

Mapping the Universe with satellites and ground-based observatories have not only provided scientists with a pretty good understanding of its structure, but also of its composition. And for some time now, they have been working with a model that states that the Universe consists of 4.9% “normal” matter (i.e. that which we can see), 26.8% “dark matter” (that which we can’t), and 68.3% “dark energy”.

From what they have observed, scientists have also concluded that the normal matter in the Universe is concentrated in web-like filaments, which make up about 20% of the Universe by volume. But a recent study performed by the Institute of Astro- and Particle Physics at the University of Innsbruck in Austria has found that a surprising amount of normal matter may live in the voids, and that black holes may have deposited it there.

In a paper submitted to the Royal Astronomical Society, Dr. Haider and his team described how they performed measurements of the mass and volume of the Universe’s filamentary structures to get a better idea of where the Universe’s mass is located. To do this, they used data from the Illustris project – a large computer simulation of the evolution and formation of galaxies.

Illustration of the Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory: A history of the Universe starting from a singularity and expanding ever since. Credit: grandunificationtheory.com

As an ongoing research project run by an international collaboration of scientists (and using supercomputers from around the world), Illustris has created the most detailed simulations of our Universe to date. Beginning with conditions roughly 300,000 years after the Big Bang, these simulations track how gravity and the flow of matter changed the structure of the cosmos up to the present day, roughly 13.8 billion years later.

The process begins with the supercomputers simulating a cube of space in the universe, which measures some 350 million light years on each side. Both normal and dark matter are dealt with, particularly the gravitational effect that dark matter has on normal matter. Using this data, Haider and his team noticed something very interesting about the distribution of matter in the cosmos.

Essentially, they found that about 50% of the total mass of the Universe is compressed into a volume of 0.2%, consisting of the galaxies we see. A further 44% is located in the enveloping filaments, consisting of gas particles and dust. The remaining 6% is located in the empty spaces that fall between them (aka. the voids), which make up 80% of the Universe.

However, a surprising faction of this normal matter (20%) appears to have been transported there, apparently by the supermassive black holes located at the center of galaxies. The method for this delivery appears to be in how black holes convert some of the matter that regularly falls towards them into energy, which is then delivered to the sounding gas, leading to large outflows of matter.

This artist's concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s impression of a supermassive black holes at the hearts of a galaxy. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

These outflows stretch for hundreds of thousands of lights years beyond the host galaxy, filling the void with invisible mass. As Dr. Haider explains, these conclusions supported by this data are rather startling. “This simulation,” he said, “one of the most sophisticated ever run, suggests that the black holes at the center of every galaxy are helping to send matter into the loneliest places in the universe. What we want to do now is refine our model, and confirm these initial findings.”

The findings are also significant because they just may offer an explanation to the so-called “missing baryon problem”. In short, this problem describes how there is an apparent discrepancy between our current cosmological models and the amount of normal matter we can see in the Universe. Even when dark matter and dark energy are factored in, half of the remaining 4.9% of the Universe’s normal matter still remains unaccounted for.

For decades, scientists have been working to find this “missing matter”, and several suggestions have been made as to where it might be hiding. For instance, in 2011, a team of students at the Monash School of Physics in Australia confirming that some of it was in the form of low-density, high energy matter that could only be observed in the x-ray wavelength.

In 2012, using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a NASA research team reported that our galaxy, and the nearby Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, were surrounded by an enormous halo of hot gas that was invisible at normal wavelengths. These findings indicated that all galaxies may be surrounded by mass that, while not visible to the naked eye, is nevertheless detectable using current methods.

And just days ago, researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) described how they had used fast radio bursts (FRBs) to measure the density of cosmic baryons in the intergalactic medium – which yielded results that seem to indicate that our current cosmological models are correct.

Factor in all the mass that is apparently being delivered to the void by supermassive black holes, and it could be that we finally have a complete inventory of all the normal matter of the Universe. This is certainly an exciting prospect, as it means that one of the greatest cosmological mysteries of our time could finally be solved.

Now if we could just account for the “abnormal” matter in the Universe, and all that dark energy, we’d be in business!

Further Reading: Royal Astronomical Society

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btraymd
Member
btraymd
March 1, 2016 12:34 AM
It’s time to throw out everything that cosmology has given us and start from scratch using what we now know from the latest radio telescope data. We should abandon all unproven and hypothetical mathematical conjecture like dark matter and dark energy. Given recent findings these ideas are not required if we stick with the known facts and recent observations. First of all the use of the term “black hole” is totally inappropriate. These structures are found at the center of galaxies and should be called galactic centers or galactic nuclei. They are not holes of any kind and are not really black. They appear to be powerful electromagnetic phenomenon and there is really no proven role for gravity… Read more »
mewo
Member
mewo
March 1, 2016 3:03 AM

Moderators, can we please start again enforcing the Universe Today rules against long-winded inarticulate ranting? Every time there’s a post on black holes or electromagnetic phenomena this guy slams us with the same copy-pasted rambling wall of text. It’s tedious.

Dark Gnat
Member
Dark Gnat
March 1, 2016 8:47 AM

Agreed. This is essentially spam.

btraymd
Member
btraymd
March 1, 2016 4:51 PM
Are you really begging the moderators to squash opinions that are well presented and backed up with recent radio telescope data because they may vary from the current standard model?? How pathetic. If you lack the knowledge or education to directly address the comments I have made then why reply at all. My comments were made to provoke legitimate scientific debate as opposed to the regurgitation of theories based on unproven and unobserved mathematical conjecture. I can’t imagine what precipitates your emotional pleas for help in lieu of a scientifically sound response to the issues I have raised. I don’t claim to know the answers to the issues I have raised but I simply present a viewpoint which… Read more »
mewo
Member
mewo
March 1, 2016 6:05 PM

UniverseToday has, or had, rules against using the comment section to promote incoherent pseudoscientific babble. I’m asking the moderators to begin enforcing them again.

I certainly have no issue with genuine debate about genuine science. My problem is with indulging crackpot lunacy, which is exactly what the Electric Universe idea is.

btraymd
Member
btraymd
March 1, 2016 7:28 PM

Name calling and opinions without any scientific support should certainly be excluded.

mewo
Member
mewo
March 2, 2016 1:35 AM

If it’s acceptable for you to call people pathetic, to call scientists frauds, dand to accuse people of lacking knowledge and education, then it is OK for me to describe the Electric Universe hypothesis as crackpot pseudoscience.

Zoutsteen
Member
Zoutsteen
March 1, 2016 5:26 AM
Betray MD, You read replies? If you do … Woho, you spewing stuff at terminal velocities without proper verification. If you travel at terminal velocity than even the water’s surface is as tough as brick. With water being the readers of your comment(s). Lets start with your opening (first of all) comment: Renaming Black Holes? Those are remnants of a Stellar collapse, where the curvature of space around them is larger than the perpendicular velocity of light. Not sure if Galactic Nuclei would be a good replacement, As there is most often exactly just one super massive black hole at the center, while the rest of the black holes are just traveling round in the galactic disk. So,… Read more »
btraymd
Member
btraymd
March 1, 2016 6:16 PM
IMO the term “black hole” best defines the predictive value of the current standard model. The use of the term”black hole” to describe galactic centers is totally inappropriate……hole in what??? Maybe the scientists that use this term are thinking it is a rabbit hole?? The continued adherence to a term that is so useless reflects a significant lack of understanding. This isn’t hard to believe since the current model is purely mathematical conjecture that requires the total breakdown of the known laws of physics. This model survived only because of the lack of documented evidence. But in the last several years advances in radio astronomy have given us remarkable data that should be considered no matter how heretical… Read more »
Zoutsteen
Member
Zoutsteen
March 4, 2016 8:33 AM
A black hole is just named so, because light cannot escape the gravitational pull once it reaches the event horizon. Its not a hole in the universe, but science fiction writers have used black holes for many things, from time traveling (Sphere) , to Kessel runs (Star Wars) to spawning evil things (Event Horizon) etc. It is just a star, but compressed to high densities with no information coming from it. No light, no electric radiation, no nothing (except the Theorized Hawking Radiation) If our sun would have been a blackhole, than nothing special happens, except … no sunshine .. no blackhole shine. Of coarse, the minimum mass seems to be about 3 solar masses, but it gives… Read more »
Harmonograms
Member
Harmonograms
March 1, 2016 11:33 AM

You are extremely rude to proselytize in a science forum. Yahoo provides areas for religious zealots to regurgitate the tenets of their belief systems to each other all day long. In here, we are discussing new knowledge about our universe which has nothing to do with discarded and refuted EU mythology.

btraymd
Member
btraymd
March 1, 2016 4:31 PM
The EU theory is being validated by current radio telescope data. Perhaps you would like to comment on the IBEX findings published in the Astrophysical Journal that I referenced. Or at least you could comment on the massive magnetic fields surrounding both the galactic centers as well as the galaxies themselves. These appear to be the forces that determine galaxy formation. Their presence has been documented and measured by all relevant NASA missions. But if your religious beliefs require the presence of dark matter then I guess these facts are too inconvenient to deserve consideration. Or perhaps a lack of fundamental knowledge in plasma physics and electrical engineering renders you incapable of an intelligent reply. Either way, your… Read more »
dean.sueck@gmail.com
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[email protected]
March 1, 2016 11:16 AM
lol. Hope this doesn’t sound too stupid. I’m a professional computer consultant not a cosmologist/astronomer, well an amateur one maybe. I remember reading a paper by Hawking — must be 10-15 years ago. He postulated that if a black hole – any type of black hole – were to be removed from all food sources, like maybe kicked out of its home galaxy and into the void, that it would begin to ever so slowly, over decades, and centuries release a particle of radiation here and there, that would escape the gravitational pull of the BH. In this process, ever so slowly the BH would shrink down and down and down until finally when it was a few… Read more »
BlackWolfStanding
Member
BlackWolfStanding
March 1, 2016 1:06 PM
As I understand Black Holes: Gravity is very consistent at all event horizons of all Black Holes. So the effects of the gravity from Black Holes’ event horizons are the same. The only difference is the diameter of the event horizon. Let’s say you have your typical Black Hole passing our Solar System where the center of the Back Hole Is Just out side the Oort Cloud. You would see tremendous gravitational effects on the Oort Cloud, but that’s about it. Now replace the typical Black Hole with a Super Massive Black Hole with an Event Horizon that has the diameter of our Solar system. Ah, our planetary Solar System will cease to exist. Not because of the… Read more »
dean.sueck@gmail.com
Member
[email protected]
March 1, 2016 1:31 PM

Thanks for the reply. Makes total sense.

btraymd
Member
btraymd
March 1, 2016 7:25 PM
I liked your post. At least it reflects that there are some problems with our current model of “black holes”. IMO the problems far exceed the understanding. First and foremost I want know in precisely what a black hole is a hole. I assume it’s not a rabbit hole or a fox hole so it’s a hole in what???? The continued use of a term that is so nondescriptive and obscure IMO reflects a total lack of real understanding. Secondly, does anyone even care that the current standard model of “black holes” requires the breakdown and abandonment of the known laws of physics?? Singularity?? Accretion disc?? Infinite mass?? Infinite density?? Gravity that can prevent the escape of electromagnetic… Read more »
btraymd
Member
btraymd
March 1, 2016 4:11 PM
As I expected, there is a lot of emotional objection to my comments without substantive effort to address the facts as I have addressed them. My comments are made in a serious manner to provoke meaningful consideration of some very serious flaws in the standard model. Those that accept the current model as if it is set in stone hardly qualify to even reply. The lack of scientific principles that pervade the current standard model has reduced it to a religion, where only belief is necessary to support it. The essential scientific triad of observation, theory and experimental validation has been replaced by mathematical conjecture. Mathematics should be used to verify observations, not create a reality which is… Read more »
mewo
Member
mewo
March 1, 2016 5:52 PM
Here’s the thing. We *have* addressed your bizarre ideas in previous posts, at great length, proving your nonsense ideas wrong with a multitude of references, facts, and mathematical arguments. But you just ignore that and copy and paste the same long-winded rambling wall of text on every post here to do with black holes, dark matter, or cosmology and then lie about nobody having a rebuttal. We’re just tired of talking to you when you don’t listen anyway. I’ve explained I think four times now that the jets and X-ray radiation from a black hole are actually emitted from the accretion disc around it but you repeatedly come back with “we know black holes aren’t black hur hur… Read more »
postman1
Member
postman1
March 1, 2016 10:32 PM

I disagree, as regards the moderator disallowing btraymd’s comments. Actually, I am enjoying reading your exchange as much as I did the article, especially this last comment, mewo. Thanks!

DrFlimmer
Member
DrFlimmer
March 2, 2016 5:47 AM
Dear mewo, I didn’t comment on this site for quite a while now. I just wanted to tell you that you have all my sympathy and respect to take this up on you. A few years ago I did the same here (and on BadAstronomy) fighting a guy called Anaconda (by chance it could be the same guy as btraymd). He had the exact same behavior: copy and pasting the same old stuff under basically every single article. And when people started becoming upset with him he said “see, I’m right, because you just call me names”. But he never really reacted to our replies and rebuttals. He even claimed at one point that quarks would not exist,… Read more »
Forty
Member
Forty
March 6, 2016 7:44 PM

Thanks for putting the nonsense in perspective.
#teammewo

mewo
Member
mewo
March 7, 2016 3:21 AM

Awwww, thanks guys. smile

btraymd
Member
btraymd
March 1, 2016 7:49 PM

You have addressed nothing as you make peripheral points that can be contested and even if true pale in comparison to the overall picture.
Your post is probably the best support for which I could hope. The points of disagreement you raise are weak at best and you offer no significant disagreement with the major points I raised in my comments (unless “batshit” and “insane” are legitimate scientific viewpoints)

mewo
Member
mewo
March 2, 2016 1:27 AM

Not going to address a single thing I said then? That’s what I thought.

SurlyEnigma
Member
SurlyEnigma
March 1, 2016 10:29 PM
Back to the article for a second, what if the Black Holes were hiding matter in a different way? This has been an idea I have had for a long time now, just nowhere to discuss it, let alone anyone willing to hear me out. This doesn’t account for the weight of the radiation ( photon packets ? ) zipping around at all the various wavelengths, which may be negligible, or not. Maybe i should first set this up so you can see where I’m coming from with this. Regular stars are basically fully, nothing too special, atoms. Neutron stars and magnetars are made of atoms that have been squeezed to where there is no space between the… Read more »
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