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Giant gas cloud is heading towards our galaxy

Posted on Saturday, 30 January, 2016 | Comment icon 6 comments

Astronomers believe that the gas cloud is actually returning home. Image Credit: NASA / A. Fujii
The cloud of gas will trigger an explosion of star formation but will take 30 million years to get here.
Known as the 'Smith Cloud' after doctoral student Gail Smith who discovered it back in the 1960s, the enormous gas cloud is 11,000 light years in length and 2,500 light years across.

Astrophysicists have been studying its properties for years, but while much is already known about its size and trajectory, its origins have long remained a bit of a mystery.

One theory is that it was a galaxy that never fully formed, but now having measured its chemical composition for the first time using the Hubble Space Telescope's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, astronomers have determined that the cloud was actually expelled from our own galaxy millions of years ago and has been slowly making its way back here ever since.

"The cloud is an example of how the galaxy is changing with time," said study leader Andrew Fox.

"It's telling us that the Milky Way is a bubbling, very active place where gas can be thrown out of one part of the disk and then return back down into another."

Source: | Comments (6)

Tags: Smith Cloud, Milky Way

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Otto von Pickelhaube on 29 January, 2016, 13:20
Gigantic gas cloud? I thought this was going to be another story about donald Trump. :-/
Comment icon #2 Posted by Ell on 30 January, 2016, 19:08
It is a long wait. I had better prepare some coffee.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Hawkin on 30 January, 2016, 19:26
I wonder if the writers of Star Trek: The Motion Picture got the idea from Gail Smith and called it VGer?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Infernal Gnu on 31 January, 2016, 2:19
Is God farting on us?
Comment icon #5 Posted by MissJatti on 31 January, 2016, 8:01
I think the world should be worrying about alien invasion, or or ISIS domination or or apocalypse etc which is more likely going to happen in the near future
Comment icon #6 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 31 January, 2016, 10:58
I think the world should be worrying about alien invasion, or or ISIS domination or or apocalypse etc which is more likely going to happen in the near future Who is worrying about this ? In the immortal words of Bobby McFerrin: "don't worry be happy"

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