Galaxy M-51 (Whirlpool) is one of the most studied galaxies in space. But scientists managed to find a previously unprecedented cloud of gaseous hydrogen associated with the galaxy.
Researchers stared intently at M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy) since the 1800s, arguing about the nature of the object and the concept of galaxies in general. However, no one was able to notice earlier what astronomers from Case University Western Reserve found using a 75-year-old telescope in the mountains of southwestern Arizona.
They discovered a massive cloud of ionized hydrogen gas ejected from a neighboring galaxy, and then “prepared” by the radiation of the galaxy's central black hole. For the first time the cloud was observed in 2015 and announced the discovery in April. This feature allows us to study the behavior of a black hole during consumption and “recirculation” of hydrogen gas.
But why exactly these researchers are so lucky? First of all, they looked at the right place with the right equipment, and then enlisted the help of colleagues to confirm the find with additional information.
The CWRU telescope is one of more than two dozen research telescopes at the Kit-Peak National Observatory. He points to the sky 60 miles southwest of Tucson. Although it is inferior in size to the majority in the observatory, it is designed to guarantee a wide field of view and avoidance of unwanted stray light. This makes it possible to see what others cannot: diffuse patches of light that are 100 times weaker than the blackest night sky. The search for stars is a relatively simple process, but gas does not shine at all wavelengths. That is why no one has seen him at this location before. Previous studies were based on hydrogen filters to search for ionized gas, but could not notice the emission of this weak representative over such a wide area around the Whirlpool.
But it was important to understand whether the cloud belongs to a particular galaxy or whether it is simply located between the earth observer and the object. For this purpose, the WIYN observatory and its 3.5-meter telescope were used with an instrument that could display a similar spectrum of a cloud to fix its speed.
Creation of stars
The discovery allows you to more clearly understand how galaxies emit and process their gas and stars. It is necessary to obtain more information in order to fully disclose this question and better understand what exactly is happening in the Whirlpool.