Special Perspectives

Missing Baryons and the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium

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Science  04 Jan 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5859, pp. 55-57
DOI: 10.1126/science.1151400

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Stars and gas in galaxies, hot intracluster medium, and intergalactic photo-ionized gas make up at most half of the baryons that are expected to be present in the universe. The majority of baryons are still missing and are expected to be hidden in a web of warm-hot intergalactic medium. This matter was shock-heated during the collapse of density perturbations that led to the formation of the relaxed structures that we see today. Finding the missing baryons and thereby producing a complete inventory of possibly the only detectable component of the energy-mass budget of the universe is crucial to validate or invalidate our standard cosmological model.

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