Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pill-popping galaxy hooked on gas

Date:
November 25, 2013
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
Our Galaxy may have been swallowing "pills" -- clouds of gas with a magnetic wrapper -- to keep making stars for the past eight billion years.

Our Galaxy (an artist’s conception): where does it get the fuel to keep forming stars?
Credit: Nick Risinger

"Food pills" were a staple of science fiction for decades. For our Galaxy, they may be real.

The Galaxy has been making stars for the last 8 billion years. What's kept it going all that time?

When old stars die, some of their gas goes back into the galactic "soup" for star making. But in the long run a lot of it gets locked up in long-lived dwarf stars.

So the Galaxy needs fresh supplies of gas.

Astronomer think that gas rains in from intergalactic space, probably in the form of "clouds," and that this fuels the star-making.

But there's a problem.

If a regular gas cloud were to hit the warm outer parts of the Galaxy -- the halo -- the gas would dissipate, and not reach the Galaxy's starry disk where the party is going on.

Something must hold the gas clouds together on their way to the Galaxy's digestive system.

CSIRO astronomer Alex Hill and his colleagues think they have the answer.

These researchers have been studying a gas cloud falling into the Galaxy -- a big one, called the Smith Cloud, after the woman who discovered it -- and have found it has a magnetic field.

The field is weak, about 0.002% of the strength of Earth's.

But the astronomers think it's strong enough to hold the cloud together, so that it can deliver its payload of gas into the Galaxy's disk.

The Cloud's like a coated aspirin tablet that goes through your stomach undigested, then releases its contents when it hits your intestine.

Also known as Smith's Cloud, it's one of thousands of high-velocity clouds of hydrogen gas flying around the outskirts of our Galaxy.

Astronomers think their origins are mixed, some stemming from burst "bubbles" in the gas of our Galaxy, some being primordial gas, and some associated with small galaxies our Galaxy's gravity is shredding from a distance. The Smith Cloud is probably either semi-primordial gas condensing from the halo of our Galaxy or gas stripped from another galaxy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alex S. Hill, S. A. Mao, Robert A. Benjamin, Felix J. Lockman, Naomi M. McClure-Griffiths. MAGNETIZED GAS IN THE SMITH HIGH VELOCITY CLOUD. The Astrophysical Journal, 2013; 777 (1): 55 DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/777/1/55

Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Pill-popping galaxy hooked on gas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125101209.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2013, November 25). Pill-popping galaxy hooked on gas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125101209.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Pill-popping galaxy hooked on gas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125101209.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — After more than two years, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover reached Mount Sharp, its long-term destination. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — Elon Musk has been talking about his goal of colonizing Mars for years now, but how much of it does he actually have figured out, and is it possible? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins