Academic journal article Science Scope

River of Hydrogen Flowing through Space

Academic journal article Science Scope

River of Hydrogen Flowing through Space

Article excerpt

Using the National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), astronomer D.J. Pisano from West Virginia University has discovered what could be a never-before-seen river of hydrogen flowing through space. This very faint, very tenuous filament of gas is streaming into the nearby galaxy NGC 6946 and may help explain how certain spiral galaxies keep up their steady pace of star formation.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"We knew that the fuel for star formation had to come from somewhere. So far, however, we've detected only about 10% of what would be necessary to explain what we observe in many galaxies," said Pisano. "A leading theory is that rivers of hydrogen--known as cold flows--may be ferrying hydrogen through intergalactic space, clandestinely fueling star formation. But this tenuous hydrogen has been simply too diffuse to detect, until now."

Spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, typically maintain a rather tranquil but steady pace of star formation. Others, such as NGC 6946, which is located approximately 22 million light-years from Earth on the border of the constellations Cepheus and Cygnus, are much more active, though less so than more extreme starburst galaxies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.