The mystery of the missing light

Astrophysics keeps getting curiouser and curiouser:

There is a “missing light crisis” taking place in the universe with a huge deficit on what there should be and what there actually is, astronomers have said. In a statement, experts from the Carnegie Institution for Science said “something is amiss in the universe” with 80% of the light missing.

Lead author of the study Juna Kollmeier said: “It’s as if you’re in a big, brightly-lit room, but you look around and see only a few 40-watt lightbulbs. Where is all that light coming from? It’s missing from our census.”

Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, scientists found that the light from galaxies and quasars is not enough to explain observations of intergalactic hydrogen, with a difference of 400%. Empty space between galaxies are bridged by tendrils of hydrogen and helium that act as a “light metre”.

The scientists discovered that when looking at galaxies billions of light years away in the early universe, the amount of light present appears to add up. However, in more localised parts of the universe, the calculations fail massively….

Kollmier said: “Either our accounting of the light from galaxies and quasars is very far off, or there’s some other major source of ionizing photons that we’ve never recognised. We are calling this missing light the photon underproduction crisis. But it’s the astronomers who are in crisis—somehow or other, the universe is getting along just fine.”

With the new school year starting, homeschool parents should consider helping prepare their children to deal with this “missing light crisis” by ensuring that they are properly educated on the subject. And one of the best ways to do that is to take the Astronomy and Astrophysics course for which the curriculum is available from Castalia House. Written by Dr. Sarah Salviander, it is the best curriculum on the subject you can find anywhere.