Stars and planets are not the only formations present in the Milky Way. Scientists knew some hydrogen clouds were also circling the outer edge of the galaxy, but they were moving at way too high speeds for researchers to capture a clear image of them. Now, they have finally managed to create a detailed map of all these clouds.
Scientists even looked at the internal formation of the hydrogen clouds
By collecting all the observations of the hydrogen clouds ever made by radio telescopes, scientists managed to gather enough data to create a map of these formations. Moreover, they also took a peek at the internal components of the clouds. For the first time, they observed how they contained some complex filaments and branches inside.
“It could provide new clues about the origin of these clouds and the physical conditions within them,” says Tobias Westmeier, one of the astronomers who studied these findings.
The observations represent a great achievement, as this is the first time when scientists managed to see what was happening inside the hydrogen clouds. However, this difficulty was given mostly by their speed, and not their size.
The clouds were hard to spot because of their high speed
The hydrogen clouds are extremely big. They measure over 80,000 light-years in diameters, and are several million times heavier than our Sun. However, the speeds they reach made their close observation difficult. They move at 90 km per second or even more, explaining the difficulty to observe the processes.
To detect the hydrogen clouds, the researchers first identified the gases which moved at the same pace as the entire galaxy. Then, they could find all the others which reached a different speed. Afterwards, they could tell these clouds covered about 13 percent of the surface of the sky.
However, what still remains unknown is the origin of the clouds. Researchers issued many explanations, but they didn’t manage to prove any of them. They said that materials either from outside the galaxy or Milky Way leftovers ended up inside the clouds, but couldn’t decide on any of the hypotheses.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons