Atomic hydrogen may be important for star formation: Research

Wednesday 11 October 2017 2 weeks ago 14   New York   Print

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Report  Web Desk : NEW YORK: Until recently, astronomers assumed hydrogen molecules fueled star formation in young galaxies. But new research suggests atomic hydrogen may be equally important to star formation. In the local universe, most hydrogen found inside galaxies exists as individual atoms. Scientists assumed younger galaxies would host less atomic hydrogen and more molecular hydrogen. But cosmic surveys suggest even the earliest galaxies were rich in atomic hydrogen. Cosmic noon describes the universe’s apex of star formation during a period roughly seven billion years after the Big Bang. Until now, most astronomers assumed there was little room left for atomic hydrogen in these star-filled galaxies. However, scientists had no way to confirm their suspicions. The most powerful telescopes still can’t detect individual gas atoms at such great distances. Astronomers can detect individual atoms at more intimate distances. During the most recent survey, scientists discovered galaxies three million years younger than the Milky Way with molecular gas reservoirs as large as those belonging to cosmic noon galaxies. Despite hosting 10 billion solar masses of molecular gas these young galaxies turn out to be very, very rich in atomic hydrogen as well,” Luca, an astrophysicist said. Researchers hope newer, more powerful radio telescopes will shed further light on the roles atomic and molecular hydrogen play in start-forming regions. 02