A team of researchers from Germany, France and the United Kingdom has discovered a long, thin filament of dense gas that connects the two spiral arms of the Milky Way. In their paper published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, the group describes their work studying carbon monoxide in the galaxy.
Previous research has shown that other galaxies have features called feathers – long filaments of gas with spines that look like feathers from Earth. But due to the difficulty of studying the Milky Way from the perspective of the Earth, such features have not yet been seen.
In their work, the researchers were studying carbon monoxide gas concentrations in data from the APEX Telescope in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. They observed concentrations that had never been seen before, and after taking a closer look, they discovered that it was part of a large gas formation that stretched from near the center of the galaxy to the outside, connecting two arms that give the galaxy its distinctive appearance.
Researchers named the formation the Gangotri wave – in honor of the massive glacier whose melting gave rise to the Ganges. In India, the Milky Way is known as Akasha Ganga. The newly discovered feather extends approximately from 5.6764e + 16 to 1.22989e + 17 kilometers in reach between the arms and about 1.6083242e + 17 kilometers from the galactic rotation center. They have also estimated that its mass is approximately nine suns. Prior to the new discovery, all tendrils of gases in the Milky Way were aligned with the spiral arms.
The researchers found that the Gangotri wave has another unique and interesting feature in that it is not straight as expected. Instead, it zigzags back and forth along its length in a pattern similar to a sine wave. The researchers haven’t been able to explain the strange phenomenon, but they note that there is some force that must play a role – a force that will likely be the focus of many upcoming research efforts. The team plans to continue their study of gases in the Milky Way, this time actively looking for new plumage.
Video: Revolving galactic disks in the early universe
VS Veena et al, Kilobarsec-scale particle wave in the inner galaxy: the feather of the Milky Way?, Astrophysical Journal Letters (2021). DOI: 10.3847 / 2041-8213 / ac341f
© 2021 Science X Network
the quote: The ‘Gangotri wave’ connecting the two spiral arms of the Milky Way (2021, 27 November) was discovered on 27 November 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-gangotri-milky-spiral-arms. html
This document is subject to copyright. Notwithstanding any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.