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NASA discovers galactic tail twice as long as Milky Way

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Washington: An unbelievable and extraordinary ribbon of hot gas has been discovered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

This ribbon, or X-ray tail, is likely due to gas stripped from the galaxy as it moves through a vast cloud of hot intergalactic gas.

With a length of at least 250,000 light years, it is likely the largest such tail ever detected.

The tail is located in the galaxy cluster Zwicky 8338, which is almost 700 million light years from Earth.

The length of the tail is more than twice the diameter of the entire Milky Way galaxy.

The tail contains gas at temperatures of about 10 million degrees Celsius but still hot enough to glow brightly in X-rays that Chandra can detect, the US space agency said in a statement.

The researchers think the tail was created as a galaxy known as CGCG254-021, or perhaps a group of galaxies dominated by this large galaxy, plowed through the hot gas in Zwicky 8338.

The pressure exerted by this rapid motion caused gas to be stripped away from the galaxy.

Astronomers were also able to learn more about the interactions of the system by carefully examining the properties of the galaxy and its tail.

The tail has a brighter spot, referred to as its “head”. Behind this head is the tail of diffuse X-ray emission.

The gas in the head may be cooler and richer in elements heavier than helium than the rest of the tail.

In front of the head there are hints of a bow shock, similar to a shock wave formed by a supersonic plane and in front of the bow shock is the galaxy CGCG254-021.
The paper describing these results was published in the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal. (IANS) (image: nasa.gov)

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Scientists spot massive ice deposits on Mars

Recent observations by MRO's ground-penetrating Shallow Radar instrument revealed a buried ice layer that covers more ground than the state of New Mexico.

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Scientists found layers of ice on the surface of Mars. Wikimedia Commons
  • Recently, scientists have found layers of ice on the Martian land.
  • Scientists think this ice might be a useful source of water for future humans.
  • The researchers had researched 8 locations on the surface of Mars.

Scientists have unearthed thick and massive deposits of ice in some regions on Mars.

The images taken by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showed the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars.

The ice sheets extend from just below the surface to a depth of 100 meters or more and appear to contain distinct layers.

It extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to 2 meters below the surface, which could preserve a record of Mars’ past climate, the researchers noted in the journal Science.

This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS

“We expect the vertical structure of Martian ice-rich deposits to preserve a record of ice deposition and past climate,” said Colin M. Dundas, from the US Geological Survey.

“They might even be a useful source of water for future human exploration of the red planet,” Dundas added.

The researchers investigated eight locations on Mars and found thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle.

However, erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.

The scarps are actively retreating because of sublimation of the exposed water ice.

The layers of ice can be used as water source by future humans on Mars, VOA
The layers of ice can be used as water source by future humans on Mars, VOA

The ice deposits likely originated as snowfall during Mars’ high-obliquity periods and have now compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice.

Previous researchers have revealed that the Red Planet harbours subsurface water ice.

Recent observations by MRO’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar instrument revealed a buried ice layer that covers more ground than the state of New Mexico.

NASA’s Phoenix lander had also dug up some ice near the Martian north pole in 2008, however, it is not clear if that is part of the big sheet. IANS

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