Mysterious Hydrogen Space Clouds Are Baffling Scientists

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 - 12:05PM
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 - 12:05PM
Mysterious Hydrogen Space Clouds Are Baffling Scientists
Strange clouds of hydrogen gas are moving at a different speed from the normal rotation of the Milky Way and no one knows why, a researcher has recently revealed.
 
At least 13 percent of the scape of our galaxy is covered in such collections of bizarre hydrogen clouds, according to Tobias Westmeier, a research fellow at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) at the University of Western Australia in Perth.
 
The clouds, known as HVCs (High-velocity clouds) consist of either neutral or ionized gas, are located approximately 30,000 light years of the disc of the Milky Way and are notable for their paces—especially because they don't match the spin of the rest of our galaxy.

Westmeier explains that previous attempts to map out the HVCs have been thwarted by the weak brightness of the clouds and less-than-top-notch scientific sampling, among other issues; he presented a new map that draws out "filaments and clumps that were not previously resolved."
 
"These gas clouds are moving towards or away from us at speeds of up to a few hundred kilometers per second…They are clearly separate object," Westmeier explained.
 
He adds that these details weren't "really visible in the past, and it could provide new clues about the origin of these clouds and the physical conditions within them."

Westmeier says that the origin of these clouds has been hypothesized by several astronomers: 
 
"We know for certain the origin of one of the long trails of gas, known as the Magellanic Stream, because it seems to be connected to the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds…but all the rest, the origin is unknown."
 
Westmeier's map gives the most updated galactic coordinates of HVCs currently available. 

Science
NASA