Increasingly, the impression is created that the Universe is designed in such a way that each new discovery in space gives a small answer, but at the same time generates many times more questions and riddles. A fresh example came from the Paranal Observatory, where the MUSE instrument based on the VLT telescope was able to see for the first time in history the true light of the fibers of the so-called “cosmic web”. But he turned out to be not at all what was expected.
The theory of the cosmic web assumes that the structure of the universe looks like a void through which the threads are stretched. Probably, they consist of dark matter, and therefore by themselves at the current level of our technological development are not yet visible. However, the concentration of dark matter attracts glowing gas and dust, which accumulate at the intersection of the filaments. An excess of this space building material is formed there and the process of star formation starts, therefore all significant space objects are located precisely in such nodes.
Earlier, confirmation of the existence of cosmic filaments was only indirect – for example, the effects of gravitational lensing spoke in their favor. Or bright quasars sometimes successfully illuminated those very accumulations of hydrogen gas. In the case of the MUSE experiment, the apparatus was pointed at a region of the sky already studied by the Hubble telescope and left to observe for 140 hours. It was this ultra-long exposure that made it possible to catch and recognize the scattered light of the threads of the cobweb.
22 separate filaments were discovered at once, which formed in the interval of approximately 0.8-2.2 billion years after the Big Bang. That is, they are incredibly ancient, it is precisely part of the basic structure of the Universe. But what is most interesting, the source of the glow in them was not gas at all, but billions of previously unknown dwarf galaxies. As a result of just one observation, the number of known objects of this type increased by 40% at once, while it is obvious that MUSE did not see everything. But this is secondary – the very cluster of dwarf galaxies along the spider webs perfectly confirms this theory of the structure of the Universe.