Amelia Fraser-McKelvie, an undergraduate aerospace engineering student at Monash University, has helped solve one of the largest mysteries of the galaxy. In her summer break she discovered part of the ‘missing mass’ of the universe.
“If we’re looking very, very long distances from Earth we’re detecting mass, but if we’re looking closer to Earth we only see about half the mass that we’re expecting to see,” Fraser-McKelvie explained. Scientists have previously detected matter present early in the universe but this matter ‘disappeared’ as it could not be located now, AAP reports.
“There is missing mass, ordinary mass not dark mass… It’s missing to the present day,” said Monash astrophysicist Dr Kevin Pimbblet. Scientists have known about the ‘missing mass’ for the last twenty years, and suspected it was located in galaxy filaments but lacked the technology to find it. “Now we do know where it went because that’s what Amelia found.”
After an X-ray search, Fraser-McKelvie was able to confirm that the mystery mass had moved to the filaments of galaxies, large structure in the universe akin to shoelaces.
By detecting the missing mass in filaments between groups of galaxies, Fraser-McKelvie’s discovery has enabled a wave of improvements for the way telescopes are manufactured.
Pimbblet said the discovery “has knock-on effects to the whole society”.