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Universe gets hotter and hotter as it expands

For almost a century, astronomers have understood that the Universe is in a state of expansion. Since the 1990s, they have come to understand that as of 4 billion years ago, the rate of expansion has been speeding up.

As this progresses, and the galaxy clusters and filaments of the Universe move farther apart, scientists theorize that the mean temperature of the Universe will gradually decline.

But according to new research led by the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP) at Ohio State University, it appears that the Universe is actually getting hotter as time goes on.

After probing the thermal history of the Universe over the last 10 billion years, the team concluded that the mean temperature of cosmic gas has increased more than 10 times and reached about 2.2 million K (~2.2 °C; 4 million °F) today.

The study that describes their findings, "The Cosmic Thermal History Probed by Sunyaev–Zeldovich Effect Tomography", recently appeared in The Astrophysical Journal.

The study was led by Yi-Kuan Chiang, a research fellow at the CCAP, and included members from the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), The Johns Hopkins University, and the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics.

For the sake of their study, the the team examined thermal data on the Large-Scale Structure (LSS) of the Universe. This refers to patterns of galaxies and matter on the largest of cosmic scales, which is the result of the gravitational collapse of dark matter and gas.

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