Although structures in the Universe form on a wide variety of scales, from small dwarf galaxies to large super clusters, the generation of angular momentum across these scales is poorly understood. Here we investigate the possibility that filaments of galaxies—cylindrical tendrils of matter hundreds of millions of light years across—are themselves spinning. By stacking thousands of filaments together and examining the velocity of galaxies perpendicular to the filament's axis (via their redshift and blueshift), we find that these objects too display vortical motion consistent with rotation, making them the largest objects known to have angular momentum. The strength of the rotation signal is directly dependent on the viewing angle and the dynamical state of the filament. Filament rotation is more clearly detected when viewed edge-on. In addition, the more massive the haloes that sit at either end of the filaments, the more rotation is detected. These results signify that angular momentum can be generated on unexpectedly large scales.
- Pub Date:
- June 2021
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
- 12 pages, 6 figures, to appear in the 14 June issue of Nature Astronomy, a version after one round of reviews. The final authenticated version is available online at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-021-01380-6