There is more gas in the Galaxy than is dreamt of by astronomers
A survey from Herschel has revealed that the reservoir of molecular gas in the Milky Way is hugely underestimated - almost by one third - when it is traced with traditional methods. Monitoring the emission from ionised carbon, the new study identified molecular gas in the intermediate evolutionary stage between diffuse, atomic gas and the densest star-forming molecular clouds. The discovery not only indicates that there is more raw material for the formation of new stars in the Galaxy, but also that it extends farther than astronomers knew.
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Image: Artist’s impression of molecular gas across the Milky Way’s plane. Credit: ESA - C. Carreau.