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Giant cloud in intergalactic space

Giant cloud in intergalactic space

There is something in the deep space of the universe that attracts the attention of many astronomers. Within a huge group of galaxies, a huge cloud of hot, dimly lit gas is blowing, the origin of which seems to escape current knowledge. In fact, such a cloud has never been seen before, in short, it cannot be in its place.

for the first time. A hypothesis that appears to have more substance to explain its existence says that the cloud may have been unceremoniously torn from a galaxy by the same cluster. If so, it would be the first such gas cloud ever identified. What surprises astronomers most is that the cloud itself has not dissipated over hundreds of millions of years.

Galactic clusters, as the name implies, are groups of galaxies bound together by gravity. The group of galaxies in which the “orphan” gas cloud was found is called Abell 1367, or the Leo group, and is about 300 million light-years away from us. contains at least 72 major galaxies It is part of a larger supercluster complex. Such environments provide endless insights for astronomers, especially because they can provide us with information about how our universe is interconnected.

“It is an exciting and amazing discovery. It shows how new surprises always come from astronomy, the oldest natural science” Physicist Ming Sun said, from the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

telescopes. It all started in 2017, when a group of astronomers used Japanese Subaru telescope, they spotted what appeared to be a small, hot cloud within the 1367 Abell Cluster. Since its origin wasn’t clear, the scientists decided to take a “closer” look at the other instruments. Like the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray telescope and the Diehl’s Multi-Unit Spectrograph (MUSE) Very Large Telescope.

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To their surprise, they discovered that the “cloud” was much larger than initially thought: it was actually even larger than the Milky Way, with a mass about 10 billion times the mass of the Sun. It also appears that the mysterious cloud is not associated with any of the known galaxies in the cluster. It was drifting like a ship in the ocean of the universe.

Millions of degrees. The vast amount of data collected allowed the researchers to discover the temperature of the gas, thus providing clues to its source. The temperature of the cloud is between 10,000 ° C and 10,000,000 ° C, which is about the same as the temperature of the gas inside galaxies, which is called the “interstellar medium”.

But what does this gas “circulate” between galaxies rather than stay within them? According to Sun, whose work was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical SocietyThe gas lagged behind the parent galaxy that contained it, which, for unknown reasons, greatly increased its speed. “It’s like you’re running in the wind and your hair and clothes are flying again,” Sun explained.

Fabulous puzzle. However, once removed from the host galaxy, the cloud must have evaporated in the intergalactic medium, just like the ice that melts in the summer: but this did not happen … All this is amazing, but also strange. Especially since the researchers could not find galaxies close to the cloud that could explain what was assumed.

To solve this mystery, or to try to explain why the gas doesn’t melt, a group of astronomers led by Sun created a series of models in which they discovered that a magnetic field could bind a gas cloud together, leading to a win. Otherwise, he tore it apart. If this hypothesis is confirmed, it may also help to identify the galaxy from which the cloud escaped, but it would still be a very long task…

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