More atomic hydrogen gas, which fuels the creation of universe - is lurking in space than previous estimates, according to the first accurate measurement of the gas in galaxies close to our own.
Just after the Big Bang the universe's matter was almost entirely hydrogen atoms. Over time this mass of atoms came together and generated galaxies, stars and planets - and the process is still going on.
By taking a new look at some archival data, Robert Braun, chief scientist at the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, Sydney, has discovered that galaxies around us are hiding about a third more atomic hydrogen gas than previously calculated.
The study also shows that the gas is distributed very differently from how it was in the past, with much less in the galaxies' outer suburbs than billions of years ago, The Astrophysical Journal reported.
"This means that it's much harder for galaxies to pull the gas in and form new stars," Braun said. "It's why stars are forming 20 times more slowly now than in the past."
"Even though there's more atomic hydrogen than we thought, it's not a big enough percentage to solve the Dark Matter problem," said Braun, according to a university statement.
"If what we are missing had the weight of a large kangaroo, what we have found would have the weight of a small echidna," Braun said.