Scientists have discovered a massive trail of gas drifting from quintiles of warring galaxies. A new study has revealed that a mysterious gas cloud – the largest ever around a group of galaxies – may have been left by a “cosmic intruder”.
The cloud – an unexplained two-million-light-year-wide stream of hydrogen gas from the galactic group known as Stephan’s Quintet – was discovered by the deepest survey of the region ever by the Five Hundred Meter Aperture Globe Telescope (FAST) in China. Researchers believe that the gas path,And the It can be “tidal debris” formed after rotation galaxies Collision with a large cosmic intruder nearly a billion years ago.
Named after its discoverer in the 19th century, French astronomer Edouard Stephan, Stephane’s Quintet is a group of five galaxies “trapped in a cosmic dance of frequent close encounters,” according to NASA, endlessly orbiting and circling each other. The pentagram is located about 300 million light-years from Earth and is the first group of compact galaxies ever observed and imaged by many telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope. Now, new research, done with FAST and published on October 19 in the journal temper nature (Opens in a new tab)peered 100 times more into the cluster of galaxies than ever before, revealing the enormous cloud of gas emanating from it.
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“This is the largest atomic gas structure ever found around a galaxy cluster,” Xu CongThe lead author of the study and an astronomer with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in statement.
The gas cloud formed approximately 1.5 billion years ago, when an unknown reaction stripped galaxies of atomic hydrogen and sprayed them around. Researchers blame one or more fast-moving galaxies colliding with the pentagram, and they’ve identified a possible culprit – the galaxy NGC 7320a, which is currently moving across the universe at 15 million miles per hour (24 million km/h).
“The hypothetical scenario for the formation of the diffuse feature is that NGC 7320a … passed through Stephan’s Quintet about 1.5 billion years ago … and pulled out of one of the core member galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet, the tidal tail, which evolved into the diffuse feature we see now,” he wrote. astronomers in the study.
Alternatively, the gas cloud could have been stirred up by a direct collision between one of the Pentagrams and another wandering galaxy, such as Anon 4. The direct collision could have resulted in a shock wave that pushed hydrogen outward in an expanding halo around the group. , the researchers wrote. Another possibility is that the path might not be from a galactic collision at all, but the remnants of the primordial gas cloud from which one or more pentagalaxies formed.
Regardless of the reason for this path, scientists are also unsure how the gas will stay around for so long. Usually astronomers do not expect gas clouds to last for more than 500 million years because exposure to ultraviolet radiation from stars tends to ionize them until they dissipate. The researchers believe that the low-density cloud may be leaking energy absorbed from the stars into the surrounding regions, but understanding how this occurs requires further study. The answer may provide insight into how galaxies originate and grow.
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