Cosmic Cloud Hurtling Towards Us, Creating Stars in its Wake

Cosmic Cloud Hurtling Towards Us, Creating Stars in its Wake

A 9800-light-year-long gas cloud is coming our way, and could form up to two million new stars when it finally collides with our galaxy.

On a cosmic scale, it seems the Milky Way Galaxy has made its bed of cosmic dust, and now it has to lie in it. New research proves that the Smith Cloud, an immense body of gas hovering just outside our galaxy, was actually expelled by this same Milky Way not 70 million years ago - and that cloud is rushing back towards us at about 193 miles per second.

Astronomers have long wondered about the origins of the Smith High-velocity Cloud, since its discovery in 1963. Some proposed it may have been a starless galaxy, which was a concept I had never given thought to until just now, but am incredibly fascinated by.

Careful observation through the Hubble telescope has revealed the cloud's parentage. By examining the light from distant galaxies is refracted as it passes through, astronomers were able to get a good idea as to its chemical makeup. Sulphur seems to be the number one ingredient, in such an amount as to confirm it came from our own sulphurous home.

In about 30 million years, the gas cloud will make its return visit, lighting up the sky with new stars formed in its wake. Judging by its 9800-light-year length, it could produce up to two million such starlets.

No one knows by which mechanism the cloud was ejected from our galaxy, but the scientists researching it believe gas recycling could be a common, if unseen, stage in the life cycles of galaxies.

Source: Independent.co.uk

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Please let this bathe us in Cosmic Rays and make us all super-powered.

What I'm saying is "I want to be The Thing."

*Reads title of article*

Arghhh my god we're all going to die!!!

*Reads 30 million years*

Oh well, better luck next time, universe!

Actually, a starless galaxy is a weird idea. Do they exist? And how the hell does this gas cloud find a way to turn around?? I mean...really...9800 light years across, what can make it turn around? Is it an angry god? I didn't mean to steal the biscuits! She made do it!

Xsjadoblayde:
And how the hell does this gas cloud find a way to turn around?? I mean...really...9800 light years across, what can make it turn around? Is it an angry god? I didn't mean to steal the biscuits! She made do it!

Errr... Presumably, if it was ejected from the galaxy, then it never actually escaped being bound by the galaxy's gravity and is just on the return trip of it's orbit.

Xsjadoblayde:
*Reads title of article*

Arghhh my god we're all going to die!!!

*Reads 30 million years*

Oh well, better luck next time, universe!

Actually, a starless galaxy is a weird idea. Do they exist? And how the hell does this gas cloud find a way to turn around?? I mean...really...9800 light years across, what can make it turn around? Is it an angry god? I didn't mean to steal the biscuits! She made do it!

Ah, shit, who pissed of Azathoth? His noodly appendages will have their vengeance!

So the galaxy had a kid, kicked it out of the house and told it to get a job, and now it's on its way to crash back home hoping the 'rents will help take care of its babies.

For a hot second I thought the title said "Turd Cloud' and I was confused.

So yeah, looks like something is just cruisin' around startin' all sorts of shenanigans, space shenanigans!

"A gas cloud expelled by the Milky Way is careening back towards it at 193 miles a second"
"Said cloud should reach us in 300 million years"

... space is fucking big... every now and then it just... registers.

---------------------------

Is the Milky Way still gonna be here 300 million years from now? I remember reading somewhere that we're already on a collision course with another galaxy near us.

Xsjadoblayde:
*Reads title of article*

Arghhh my god we're all going to die!!!

*Reads 30 million years*

Oh well, better luck next time, universe!

Actually, a starless galaxy is a weird idea. Do they exist? And how the hell does this gas cloud find a way to turn around?? I mean...really...9800 light years across, what can make it turn around? Is it an angry god? I didn't mean to steal the biscuits! She made do it!

Its the farts of the great space dragon coming to eat us up

BX3:

Is the Milky Way still gonna be here 300 million years from now? I remember reading somewhere that we're already on a collision course with another galaxy near us.

The Milky way will collide with the Andromeda galaxy in about 3 billion years

BX3:
Is the Milky Way still gonna be here 300 million years from now? I remember reading somewhere that we're already on a collision course with another galaxy near us.

Calling it a "collision" is perhaps a bit misleading and makes it sound a bit more catastrophic than it is. Galaxies are almost entirely empty space, so it isn't like some kind of galactic demolition derby. Instead, the two galaxies will join together to form a bigger galaxy. Most of the matter and stars in the two galaxies will simply continue on their way, although some will be ejected into intergalactic space. At that point, our sun will still be a main sequence star (although it will be getting quite old, and the planets may well be gone), its fate is unknown.

For reference though, all multi-celled life on this planet has evolved in the space of half a billion years. 3 billion years is a ridiculously unimaginable length of time.

Xsjadoblayde:
Actually, a starless galaxy is a weird idea. Do they exist? And how the hell does this gas cloud find a way to turn around??

Gravity.

The milky way galaxy has its own gravitational pull from all of the matter contained within it. The cloud was ejected at high speed, but as it flew off into interstellar space it was still being pulled back by gravity. Eventually gravity cancelled the momentum and the cloud is falling back into the galaxy again. By the time it gets to the galaxy, it will be travelling at the same speed at which it was ejected in the first place.

BX3:

Is the Milky Way still gonna be here 300 million years from now? I remember reading somewhere that we're already on a collision course with another galaxy near us.

I think it's happening much further into the future, but it will be less like a car crash and more like two rivers merging into one bigger river.

albino boo:
The Milky way will collide with the Andromeda galaxy in about 3 billion years

spartandude:
I think it's happening much further into the future, but it will be less like a car crash and more like two rivers merging into one bigger river.

Ah, I see. Never mind then. Come get us, fart gas!

evilthecat:
Calling it a "collision" is perhaps a bit misleading and makes it sound a bit more catastrophic than it is. Galaxies are almost entirely empty space, so it isn't like some kind of galactic demolition derby. Instead, the two galaxies will join together to form a bigger galaxy. Most of the matter and stars in the two galaxies will simply continue on their way, although some will be ejected into intergalactic space. At that point, our sun will still be a main sequence star (although it will be getting quite old, and the planets may well be gone), its fate is unknown.

For reference though, all multi-celled life on this planet has evolved in the space of half a billion years. 3 billion years is a ridiculously unimaginable length of time.

Ah, no sweat. I'm already aware that it'd be less of a cool explosion and more like 2 swarms of lovebugs meeting. I was using "collision course" mostly to be humorous, though it IS pretty misleading. The model I saw for it actually looks way cooler than just 2 masses hitting each other.

Jadak:

Errr... Presumably, if it was ejected from the galaxy, then it never actually escaped being bound by the galaxy's gravity and is just on the return trip of it's orbit.

evilthecat:

Gravity.

The milky way galaxy has its own gravitational pull from all of the matter contained within it. The cloud was ejected at high speed, but as it flew off into interstellar space it was still being pulled back by gravity. Eventually gravity cancelled the momentum and the cloud is falling back into the galaxy again. By the time it gets to the galaxy, it will be travelling at the same speed at which it was ejected in the first place.

Ah ok, i was unaware galaxies had such powerful collective gravitational pull. Also i assumed the angle of ejection was directly outward too. Quite something to imagine.

Fox12:

Ah, shit, who pissed of Azathoth? His noodly appendages will have their vengeance!

albino boo:

Its the farts of the great space dragon coming to eat us up

The farts of the noodly space dragon are coming to eat us out of vengeance for fiddling with his appendages. Got it! Time to prepare accordingly...

This, I love. I love it when big things happen in the universe. Not just the usual cosmic dance, but something big and strange like this making an appearance. I'll be long-gone by the time it gets here, but it's so cool...

 

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