Researchers track hydrogen throughout Milky Way

Researchers track hydrogen throughout Milky Way

Putting together data collected by two of the world's most powerful telescopes, an international team of researchers has create the most detailed map of hydrogen in our galaxy to date.

Hydrogen rules the universe, by making up almost everything from stars to galaxies. Tracking hydrogen atoms in the Milky Way will likely provide researchers with a previously impossible detailed view of the galaxy.

Jurgen Kerp, an astronomer with the University of Bonn, pointed out that hydrogen gas is essentially the element of the universe because it came into existence within the first three minutes after the Big Bang and has ruled the universe since then.

Speaking on the topic, Kerp added, "Thus, [the map] allows us to study the evolution of the Milky Way galaxy from pure hydrogen gas to stars. The basic evolutionary steps of the star formation are well established today, but the links between them we just start to explore."

Like many other astronomers, Prof. McClure-Griffiths of the Australian National University expressed hope that the new map will help answer unsolved questions the Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies.

Half of the research team members were based out of Australia's CSIRO radio telescope, while the other members pored through data collected by the Germany-based Max-Planck radio telescope. Even with two teams scanning each hemisphere, it took millions of observations and around a decade of work to create the map.


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