We finally know the source of a mysterious stream orbiting the Milky Way

We finally know the source of a mysterious stream orbiting the Milky Way

Just as Jarmungandar surrounds the earth individually, so does the entire galaxy. A huge, high-velocity stream of gas covers a distance of about 200,000 light-years, covering most of the Milky Way.

We know where it came from, more or less. It is wonderfully connected to the large and small Magellanic clouds, the dwarf galaxies that orbit the orbit and it will eventually be crushed by the galaxy. It gives the name of the cosmic snake – the Magellanic Stream.

However, chemically the Magellanic stream matches the Magellanic cloud, an aspect that has astonished astronomers for decades – its mass. That stream contains about one billion solar masses of gas, and the models could not explain why the two galaxies are losing so much.

Elena de Ongia, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained, “That’s why we’ve come up with a new solution that’s great for interpreting mass of flows.”

According to their new model, the gas does not come from within the Magellanic Cloud. Rather, it has pulled them out of their galactic haloes – giant clouds of gas and plasma that overwhelm most galaxies.

All-sky view of the Magellanic Stream. (D. Nidivar et al., NRAO / AII / NSF, A. Melanger, Leyden-Argentina-Forest Survey, Parks Observatory, Westerbark Observatory, Arsibo Observatory)

The Magellanic Clouds and the Milky Way dance is an interesting one as the two satellite galaxies orbit each other and then orbit the larger Milky Way. This complex interaction is thought to be scattering all three galaxies and disrupting the Milky Way Magellanic Cloud.

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Previously, it was thought that the tidal wave deviation from the Milky Way dragged the Magellanic flow because two dwarf galaxies came into the Milky Way’s ring of gravitational influence. However, this model can only account for about 10 percent of the mass observed in the stream.

“This is a 50-year-old puzzle,” said Andrew Fox, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute. “We’ve never had a good explanation of where it came from. The really exciting thing is that we’re closing an explanation now.”

What’s new here is recent research that suggests that Magellanic clouds increase their own haloes considerably.

The team, led by astronomer Scott Luchini of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted its own imitation of the Magellanic Clouds that were formed in orbit around the Milky Way.

They calculated that the halo of warm gas around the Magellanic cloud – dubbed the Magellanic corona – would dramatically change the way the Magellanic stream formed.

According to their imitation, the formation was a two-stage process. The Magellanic clouds at the first level occurred long before they occupied the Milky Way, but when they were still orbiting each other. The big Magellanic Cloud stole the whole bunch of material from the small Magellanic Cloud, losing a small amount of gas itself.

This process took about 7. billion billion years, resulting in the gas value of about three billion solar masses that surrounded two galaxies due to captivity in the Milky Way. At this point, the gravitational forces sowed the seeds for the Magellanic stream, providing 10 to 20 percent of its final mass.

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Animation MCSimulation animation. (Elena de Ongia and Scott Luchini / University of Wisconsin-Madison)

In the second stage, after two galaxies were captured in the galaxy’s orbit, the gravity of our galaxy and its interaction with its own galactic halo pulled the mass around one-fifth of the mass of the Magellanic corona to form the rest of the flow.

According to the team simulation, the sequence of these two-stage events reproduces the structure and mass of the magellanic stream, known as the apex arm with the branch of the stream that orbits in front of two dwarf galaxies.

We can’t directly detect the Magellanic Corona, but the team model provides the toolkit to do this.

Gas clouds should have high ionized states of carbon and silicon. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, we can observe distant quarters through the Magellanic corona and analyze their light to see if it has traveled through significant clouds of these elements on their way to the solar system.

The researchers wrote in their research paper, “Background-Cassar sights allow for the unequivocal identification of the Magellanic corona, as they were observed by the intracellular component of the large Magellanic corona,” the researchers wrote in their research paper.

Research has been published Nature.

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