Feeds

Galactic prang fingered in star formation mystery

Gas + shock waves = shiny things

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

Astronomers now have direct evidence that stars form when galaxies collide. Data from the ISO, the European Space Agency's (ESA) infrared observatory, has shown that the shock wave caused by the collision of two galaxies has excited the gas from which new stars form. The discovery could shed light on how the first ever stars formed.

Excited gas in the overlapping parts of the two galaxies known as Antennae

It has been known for a while that shock waves from supernovae excite clouds of gas, which causes the cloud to collapse and eventually to form a new star. Hydrogen molecules radiate at a particular frequency when they are excited by this process, and it is this signature that scientists have spotted in the colliding galaxies known collectively as Antennae. The region where they overlap is very rich in excited molecular hydrogen.

The two galaxies are located 60m light-years away in the constellation 'Corvus'. They are at a very early stage (relatively speaking) in their encounter. Although the excitation of the gas has been detected, there are relatively few supernovae in the region which means that winds from these massive explosions cannot be responsible for getting the hydrogen all worked up: it has to be a result of the collision.

The researchers now believe that shock waves from collisions of early clouds of gas could have triggered the formation of the very first stars.

The researchers from the AIRUB Institute in Bochu and the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie in Heidelberg estimate that new stars will be born over the next million years or so, causing the galaxies to become twice as bright in the infrared.

The results will be published in full in Astronomy & Astrophysics, this spring.®

Related stories

Astronomers spot first ever dark galaxy
New 'scope snaps Orion in infrared
Galaxies rent asunder in huge cosmic collision

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Dragon capsule arrives at space station for Easter Sunday delivery
SpaceX reports Falcon booster made controlled touchdown in ocean
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.