Glow-in-the-dark gas lights up the cosmic web


Lyman-alpha emission is a specific wavelength of light given off by neutral hydrogen as it cools after heating that allows astronomers to trace the location of this gas. Lyman-alpha blobs are large structures of gas emitting at this wavelength that are associated with young galaxies in the early universe. The emission seen from these blobs is typically assumed to arise from the high levels of radiation given off by quasars, star formation, or even supernovae in the galaxies they surround. Astronomers have recently discovered one of the largest Lyman-alpha structures found to date, but the source of this huge object’s glow is not exactly obvious.


MAMMOTH-1 is an enormous Lyman-alpha nebula, or ELAN for short. It’s a huge structure of hydrogen gas that sits at a distance of 10 billion light-years from Earth in the center of a dense concentration of galaxies. Its discovery was…



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