ReportsAstronomy

Measurement of the small-scale structure of the intergalactic medium using close quasar pairs

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Science  28 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6336, pp. 418-422
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf9346

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Using quasar pairs to measure smoothness

Space between galaxies is filled with a tenuous gas known as the intergalactic medium (IGM). The presence of hydrogen atoms in the IGM at different redshifts imprints a series of absorption lines in the spectra of background quasars. Rorai et al. studied pairs of closely spaced quasars and quantified how similar their absorption lines are as a function of transverse separation and redshift. They thus assessed the smoothness of the IGM on relatively small scales—several times the size of a galaxy. The results constrain interactions between galaxies and the IGM, such as heating by ultraviolet photons.

Science, this issue p. 418