Planck Intercluster Bridge
Credit: Sunyaev–Zel'dovich effect: ESA Planck Collaboration; optical image: STScI Digitized Sky Survey

A Bridge Too Far

The world's longest bridge (as of June, 2011) is the Chinese Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, running for 102 miles roughly parallel to the Yangtze River between Shanghai and Nanjing. The longest bridge in the Universe (as of November 20, 2012) stretches for about 10 million light-years between the galaxy clusters Abell 399 (shown in the lower center in the image above) and Abell 401 (shown in top left). This bridge was discovered by ESA's Planck observatory. Planck is designed to study the cosmic microwave background radiation, the relic emission of the Big Bang that formed the Universe as we know it today. Planck studies the interaction of the cosmic microwave background with massive structures like galaxy clusters. This interaction produces a change in the cosmic microwave background, an effect predicted by Rashid Sunyaev and Yakov Zel'dovich. The distribution of matter revealed by Planck via the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect helps us understand the cosmic web of matter which defines the material Universe.
Published: November 26, 2012

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 03-Dec-2012 06:47:23 EST