August 7, 2002 at 8:32 PM EST - Updated July 26 at 11:45 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio State University astronomer is part of a team of scientists that's used an X-ray telescope to find an intergalactic web of gas that connects groups and clusters of galaxies.
The scientists said that the previously undetected web could lead to mapping the universe's dark matter -- areas of space that cannot be seen but are known to exist because of the pull of gravity.
OSU researcher Smita Mathur said scientists knew that the web had to exist, but no one had seen it before. She said scientists believe that dense knots of gas in the web eventually become galaxies.
Located billions of miles from earth, the web looks like a giant patch of fog suspended in space. The gas inside is so hot that it can only be seen by an X-ray telescope that's currently orbiting earth.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)