“Mystery of ‘Missing Physics’ in the Universe” –Solved by CalTech Astrophysicists

Although the majority of the “normal” matter exists in stars at the center of galaxies, in actuality these stars account for less than 10 percent of the matter in the universe. A new set of simulations show that the energy released by individual stars within galaxies can have a substantial effect on where matter is located in the universe.

The Feedback in Realistic Environments, or FIRE, project is the culmination of a multiyear, multiuniversity effort that—for the first time—simulates the evolution of galaxies from shortly after the Big Bang through today. The first simulation to factor in the realistic effects of stars on their galaxies, FIRE results suggest that the radiation from stars is powerful enough to push matter out of galaxies. And this push is enough to account for the “missing” galactic mass in previous calculations, says Philip Hopkins, assistant professor of theoretical astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and lead author of a paper resulting from the project.

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