Astronomers have done recent research on interstellar clouds and found some very important things

31/05/2022
Credit image: Nebulae: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA; Spectra: Jacob et al - W3, one of the 25 Milky Way regions the HyGAL project will study, is seen as the glowing white area in the upper right of this image of the Heart and Soul Nebulae, taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). SOFIA looked at the abundances of six hydride molecules in W3, the spectra of two of which are shown in the box at left
Credit image: Nebulae: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA; Spectra: Jacob et al - W3, one of the 25 Milky Way regions the HyGAL project will study, is seen as the glowing white area in the upper right of this image of the Heart and Soul Nebulae, taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). SOFIA looked at the abundances of six hydride molecules in W3, the spectra of two of which are shown in the box at left

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 31 May 2022, at 13:11 pm Los Angeles time

Recently, astronomers used the SOFIA telescope maintained by NASA and DLR, discovering a lot of important things for our understanding of the interstellar clouds in our galaxy.

Astronomers know that diffuse atomic gas becomes dense molecular gas which then forms stars, and solar systems. In short, it is very important to understand these interstellar clouds so that we can understand much of our galaxy.

So far, the team of astronomers has analyzed 3 regions of our galaxy out of 25 proposed.

The remaining 22 will be studied in the next research, covering both the inner part of our galaxy and its edges.

The 3 regions studied so far are two star-forming regions, W3 (OH) and W3 IRS5, and a young stellar object, NGC 7538 IRS1.

In these regions, scientists have studied in the HyGAL project, 6 hydrides - molecules or molecular ions in which one or more hydrogen atoms are attached to a heavier atom by pairs of shared electrons.

"Hydrides are small, but we can understand so much from them. Small molecules, big impact," said Jacob an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University.

They discovered different characteristics of hydrides.

"The sources are very different: Some of them are older, some have more chemical enrichment, some are younger and still forming stars," Jacob said. "All of these will affect the nature of molecules that are formed, like their abundances, for example."

As an example, one of the hydrides, argonium, can only form in regions that are almost pure atomic gas, so the detection of argon indicates a low molecular content in the environment, according to NASA.

"Imagine you're moving into a cloud. At each stage, you're seeing different molecules, reflecting changes in the cloud properties as it gets denser," Jacob said. "Through this project, we're filling in the properties of this transition."

After extensive research and the rest of this project, which will include 22 other regions of our galaxy, astronomers hope to find answers to questions that are essential to these interstellar clouds as "essential" to understanding our galaxy and beyond.

"The idea is to give us not only information about the sources themselves, but also information about the different spiral arms they cross, making this truly a study over galactic scales," concluded Jacob.

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