The Milky Way is a galaxy, and galaxies are made up of billions of stars. And in the center of each galaxy, there’s a big bulge – essentially, a giant volume filled with gas and dust. This gas and dust are where new stars are born.
New theory on the origins of clouds in the Milky Way
A new theory suggests that clouds in the Milky Way’s plasma bubbles came from the starry disk – and far beyond.
The research, led by scientists at the University of Utah, is based on observations of clouds in bubbles around young stars. The team found that the clouds are created when high-energy particles from the disk interact with each other and with the gas inside the bubble.
This interaction creates small aerosols, or dust particles, which can then form clouds. The findings could help explain why clouds are common around young stars and why they are often associated with conditions that favor life.
“We think this is a key step in understanding how these clouds form and how they affect stellar evolution,” said study author Nathaniel Smith.
Clouds form when cosmic rays hit water droplets
Clouds are a popular topic of interest, not just because they can add beauty to an otherwise drab landscape, but also because they play an important role in regulating Earth’s climate.
The clouds we see on Earth are made up of tiny water droplets. When a cosmic ray hits one of these droplets, it causes the water molecule to split in two. This creates a cloud condensation nucleus (CCN), which is made up of lots of small water droplets.
As the CCN continues to grow, it starts to form larger and larger droplets. Eventually, the CCN will reach the size of a raindrop or even a hailstone. And that’s when the magic happens: light reflects off the individual water molecules, yielding a cloudy background appearance.
So why do clouds form in the first place? It all comes down to cosmic rays! These ultra-high-energy particles slam into Earth’s atmosphere on a regular basis, and some of them manage to hit water droplets in the sky. The impact causes these droplets to split in half, and as we’ve seen before, this leads to the formation of CCNs.
The bubbles may have come from far beyond our galaxy
The clouds of gas and dust swirling around the Milky Way are thought to be the result of star formation. Now, a new study has found that these clouds may have originated from far beyond our galaxy. The bubbles may have come from the disk of stars that surrounds the Milky Way galaxy, according to a study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Our findings imply that certain gas and dust clumps in the galactic disc may have been moved outside of it by the velocity of stars, eventually generating our bubbles, the researcher said. lead author Dr. Anna Frebel from University College London. “These findings could help us to better understand how our galaxy formed and evolved.”
The study used data from several observatories, including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory. The team was able to identify clusters of stars near the bubbles, which suggests that they may have originated from outside our galaxy. The bubbles may also be evidence of a further expansion of the Milky Way.