Mucous mold helped map the most complex structures in the universe. Its structure will explain the geometry of the billions of filaments with which gravity connects galaxies and dark matter. A study by scientists from the University of California is published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
A unicellular organism, known as mucous mold (Physarum polycephalum), in the process of development and vital activity creates complex filiform structures in search of food, always finding almost optimal ways to connect different points.
On the other hand, during the formation of the Universe, gravity creates a huge spider-like structure of filaments connecting galaxies and clusters of galaxies together with invisible bridges of gas and dark matter hundreds of millions of light-years long. There is a strange similarity between the two networks, one of which is created by biological evolution, and the other by gravity.
The Cosmic Web is a cluster of filaments, consisting mainly of dark matter and penetrated by gas, on the basis of which all galaxies are formed. Until now, it has been difficult for astronomers to find these elusive filaments since the gas inside them is too dull to be detected using telescopes.
In a new study, scientists developed a computer algorithm inspired by the behavior of mold mucosa and tested it on a computer simulation of the growth of filaments of dark matter in the universe.
Researchers then applied the algorithm to data containing the locations of more than 37,000 galaxies mapped by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). The algorithm created a three-dimensional map of the basic cosmic filament structure. Then, astronomers specified it based on the analysis of light from 350 distant quasars listed in the catalog of the spectroscopic heritage of the Hubble telescope. This allowed the research team to associate gas with the large-scale structure of the universe.
“It is amazing that one of the simplest forms of life makes it possible to understand the most ambitious structures in the universe. To find the location of cosmic filaments, including those located far from galaxies, we could archive data from the Hubble Space Telescope to detect and determine the density of cold gas at the very edge of these invisible filaments”.
Joseph Burchett, lead author of the study