Spanning thousands of light-years in the Milky Way, a newly discovered hydrogen filament called Maggie is one of the largest structures ever discovered in our galaxy, and researchers think there could be other structures like it.
A team of astronomers led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Germany has discovered something strange on the other side of the planet. Galaxy: a giant filament of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen is both the simplest substance and the most abundant element in the universe. But these filament-like clouds of hydrogen can be difficult to detect in the interstellar medium (ISM), the matter and radiation that lie between them. star systems in a galaxy, the astronomers explained in their study, published in December 2021 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
“Maggie,” made up almost entirely of atomic hydrogen gas, is a whopping 3,900 light-years long and 130 light-years wide. (For reference, a light year is about 5.88 trillion miles, or 9.46 trillion kilometers.)
Follow a statement by the MPIA.
In this new study, the team of astronomers used data from the Milky Way’s HI/OH/ recombination line survey, also known as the THOR survey, to survey Maggie and shed some light big hydrogen clouds like it.
The team discovered Maggie, and with their work, they were able to see how far it expands, the velocity of the hydrogen gas that makes it up, and more. Astronomers were even able to determine Maggie’s distance from Earth, which they estimate to be around 55,000 light-years.
Normally, it is very difficult for astronomers to detect large hydrogen groups like this, because they are not prominent against the ISM. However, Maggie’s unique location helped it show up.
“The location of this filament contributed to this success … we still don’t know exactly how it got there. But the filament extends about 1,600 light-years below the plane of the Milky Way.” , study author Jonas Syed, a PhD student at MPIA. , said in the same statement, which added that the location made it possible for researchers to see radiation emitted from hydrogen.
Understanding more about Maggie and other structures like it is an important step towards better understanding star formation, as hydrogen is the building block of stars. There are still many other questions about this large filament, such as its origin, but this discovery could lead to many more.
“While Maggie’s origin remains unclear, we hypothesize that Maggie may be the first in a class of atomic clouds, the precursors of molecular filaments,” the researchers write in the paper. giant”.
https://www.space.com/discovery-largest-structure-milky-way-galaxy-maggie Astronomers discover ‘Maggie’, a giant cloud of atoms that stretches across the Milky Way