Universe  ID: 11388

Suzaku Study Points to Early Cosmic 'Seeding'

Most of the universe's heavy elements, including the iron in our blood, formed early in cosmic history and spread throughout the universe, according to a new study of the Perseus Galaxy Cluster using Japan's Suzaku satellite.

Between 2009 and 2011, researchers from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), jointly run by Stanford University and the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, used Suzaku's unique capabilities to map the distribution of iron throughout the Perseus Galaxy Cluster.

What they found is remarkable: Across the cluster, which spans more than 11 million light-years of space, the concentration of X-ray-emitting iron is essentially uniform in all directions.

This tells astronomers that iron — and by extension other heavy elements — already was widely dispersed throughout the universe when the cluster began to form. Explaining this helps scientists better understand what the universe was like 10 to 12 billion years ago, a time when rapid-fire supernova explosions were common and black holes were especially active.


Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Producer
Francis Reddy (University of Maryland College Park): Lead Science Writer
Francis Reddy (University of Maryland College Park): Graphics
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Short URL to share this page:


This item is part of this series:
Astrophysics Stills

SVS >> Suzaku
NASA Science >> Universe