3900 light-year-old hydrogen fiber: Astronomers discover Maggi, the largest structure in the Milky Way – cnBeta.COM

About 13.8 billion years ago, our universe was born in a giant explosion, which led to the first subatomic particles and the laws of physics we know. About 370,000 years later, hydrogen is formed, and the building blocks of hydrogen and helium combine to form all the heavier elements.


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Although hydrogen is a ubiquitous element in the universe, it is very difficult to detect individual clouds of hydrogen gas in stellar media (ISM).

This makes it difficult to study the early stages of star formation, which provide clues about galaxies and the evolution of the universe. An international team led by astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) recently observed a giant strand of atomic hydrogen gas in our galaxy. Named Maggie, it is about 55,000 light-years away (on the other side of the Milky Way) and is one of the longest structures ever found in our galaxy.

Related research reports have been published in Astronomy & Astronomy. The research was led by MPIA PhD student Jonas Syed. He has worked with students from the University of Vienna, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astronomy (CfA), the Max-Blanc Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIFR), the University of Calgary, the University of Heidelberg, and the Center for Astronomy and Planetary Sciences. , Ajland Institute for Astronomy, Indian Institute of Science and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Experiment (JPL).

This study is based on data from the HI / OH / Recombination line survey of the Milky Way (THOR). THOR is a surveillance program based on the Carl-G-Yansky Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico. The VLA’s centimeter-wave radio antenna is used to study molecular cloud formation, the conversion of atomic hydrogen into molecular hydrogen, and other issues related to galaxy magnetic fields and ISM and star formation.

The ultimate goal is to determine how the two common hydrogen isotopes combine to form dense clouds that form new stars. These isotopes contain atomic hydrogen (H) – a proton, not an electron and neutrons – and molecular hydrogen (H2), which consists of two hydrogen atoms joined together by a covalent bond. The latter only condenses into relatively compact clouds, which form frozen regions and eventually new stars.

How the atomic hydrogen molecule converts to hydrogen is still largely unknown, making this ultralong fiber a particularly exciting discovery. The largest known molecular gas clouds are typically 800 light-years long, while the Magi are 3,900 light-years long and 130 light-years wide. As Syed said in a recent MPIA press release: “The location of this fiber contributed to this success. We still do not know exactly how it got there, but this fiber extends beneath the plane of the Milky Way. Allowed to show the difference. “

Group analysis showed that the material in the fibers had an average velocity of 5 velocities4KMs.-1, They determined primarily by measuring its rotation with the Milky Way disk. This means that radiation (“hydrogen lines”) with a wavelength of 21 cm is visible against the cosmic background, allowing the structure to be clearly detected. “The observations also allowed us to determine the velocity of the hydrogen gas,” said Henrik Futher, director of the THOR and co-author of the study, “which allowed us to show that there was little difference in velocity with the fiber.”

From this, the researchers concluded that Maggie was a coherent system. Juan D., an astronomer at the University of Vienna and co-author of the dissertation. These findings confirm observations made by Solar a year ago. When he noticed the threads, he named the longest river in his native Colombia: Rio Magdalena (English translation: Margaret or Maggie). Although Maggie has been identified in Solar’s previous THOR data ratings, current research alone undoubtedly proves that it is a coherent system.

Based on previously published data, the team estimates that Maggi contains 8 percent molecular weight hydrogen. Upon closer inspection, the team observed gas accumulating at different locations along the fibers, which led to the conclusion that hydrogen gas had accumulated in these areas as large clouds. They further speculate that in this environment atomic gases gradually condense into molecular forms.

“However many questions remain unanswered and we hope that additional data is already awaiting analysis, which will give us additional clues about the molecular gas fraction.” Fortunately, many space and ground-based laboratories will be available soon. Function, and telescopes will be fitted to study these threads in the future. These include radio probes such as the James Web Space Telescope and the Square Kilometer Array, which allow us to see the early days of the universe and the first stars of our universe.

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