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The alien gas cloud is one of the largest structures in the Milky Way

The alien gas cloud is one of the largest structures in the Milky Way

Both its size and atomic composition are very unusual.

So far it has been assumed that the largest known gas clouds in the Milky Way are about 800 light-years in diameter. Astronomers have now discovered what may be the tallest structure in the Milky Way, which refutes this assumption, As reported by Live ScienceR.

K New study Confirm, that this unusual cloud of hydrogen (the marked area in red in the image) is more than It is 3900 light years long And About 150 light years. The research team called the stretched cloud “Maggie‘, short for Magdalena River – the longest river in Colombia.

The gas cloud was discovered as part of the “HI/OH/Recombination Line Survey of the Milky Way” (THOR) study, which is based on data from the Jansky Very Large Array Radio Observatory in New Mexico. It searches for objects outside the Milky Way’s main plane, the flat disk in which most of the galaxy’s matter is located. With Maggie out of this plane, seeing the structure was a lot easier than it usually was.

Origin unknown

“We don’t yet know exactly how you got there,” he said jonas sidPhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Germany, in a statement. “But the wick (or gas cloud) extends about 1,600 light-years below the plane of the Milky Way.” Therefore, hydrogen radiation can be seen clearly without any real disturbance.

Because the gas cloud is so isolated, the researchers were able to calculate the velocity of the gas inside the maggi. They found that all the gas was moving at the same speed and in the same direction, which confirmed that it was indeed single structure And not several clouds next to each other.

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“Maggie was already known in previous evaluations of the data,” co-author said. Juan Soler, the MPIA astronomer who first discovered Maggie, said in the statement. “But only the current study proves beyond a reasonable doubt that it is a coherent structure.”

Interesting composition

It could be hydrogen 2 shapes It is happening. As for H2, that is, hydrogen atoms bonded together, and this is the case with most hydrogen clouds in space. or like atomic hydrogen, which consists only of single unpaired hydrogen atoms. Maggie insists 92 percent of atomic hydrogen, which makes it even more exotic.

Most stars consist of clouds of molecular hydrogen that are compressed to collapse under the influence of gravity. Researchers believe that many of these clouds may have formed from atomic hydrogen in the past. However, how this transformation occurred remains one of the greatest remaining mysteries in star formation.

Since the remaining Maggie 8 percent It consists of molecular hydrogen and appears to be concentrated at certain points on the cloud, and it is speculated whether it is in the process of such a transformation. The team hopes that additional data from future studies will reveal more about what’s going on.