Collaborating on the space detector for ‘missing’ matter

China and the Netherlands sign a memorandum

29 June 2017

China and the Netherlands will work together with a view to a future Chinese space telescope for studying 'missing matter', suspected thin gas in the universe with a temperature of hundreds of millions of degrees. The renowned Tsinghua University in Beijing and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research will study if detectors that are developed in Europe for a project of the European Space Agency ESA, is suitable for measuring radiation from such hot plasma. The two parties sealed the collaboration on Thursday in Beijing.

In the future, Chinese scientists want to study the hot plasma that is expected to be found in between clusters of galaxies. That ‘cobweb’ between the nodes in the cosmic web is called the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium (WHIM). Astronomers think that half of the baryons, the matter known to us in the universe, can be found there, as hot gas.

Mission: Hot Universe Baryon Surveyor (HUBS)

The ‘missing’ baryons should not be confused with ‘dark matter’. Baryons only account for about 5% of the total mass and energy whose influence we can observe in the universe. Of the remainder, 27% is the mysterious dark matter and 68% the unknown dark energy.

The space mission that China hopes to develop, is aimed at gaining a more complete picture of the familiar baryons. The mission is called Hot Universe Baryon Surveyor (HUBS).

Chinese researcher joins SRON team

Detectors already developed by SRON for a space telescope that will measure the X-rays from extremely hot phenomena in the universe, also form the starting point in the new collaboration. China will send a researcher to the Netherlands for a period of two years to work on the detector development together with experts from SRON.This is stated in the Memorandum of Understanding that SRON managing director Dr. Remco den Besten signed on Thursday with vice president Prof. Qikun Xue of the Chinese university. The Tsinghua University is a highly renowned university and was ranked 14th in this year’s Times’ Higher Education World Reputation Rankings.

Besides the directors and professors of Tsinghua University and SRON, Professor Wim van den Doel, Member of the Executive Board of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) was present, as well as the Dutch Chargé d’Affaires a.i. in China, Mr Paul Menkveld.

About Dutch-chinese cooperation

Since 2009, NWO executes bilateral research programs with partners in China: The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The programs are based on chances for science. First of all, the collaboration should address those fields on which The Netherlands internationally add strong knowledge, or on which research elsewhere could offer a lot for The Netherlands.

Source: NWO