An international group of astronomers, directed by Juan Diego Soler of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), have discovered the imprint of the bubbles produced by the explosion of dying stars in the configuration of the gas that pervades our galaxy. They made this finding by referring to techniques from artificial intelligence to the HI4PI survey data, which provides the most detailed whole-sky distribution of atomic hydrogen in the Milky Way to date. The scientists analyzed the filamentary structure in the emission from atomic hydrogen gas. They inferred that it maintained a record of the dynamic procedures induced by ancient supernova explosions and the rotation of the galaxy.
Hydrogen is the main component of stars like the sun. However, the process that leads the diffuse clouds of hydrogen gas that dissipate through our galaxy to compile into dense clouds from which stars eventually form is not yet fully understood. A collaboration of astronomers led by Juan Diego Soler from the INAF-IAPS and the ECOgal project has presently taken an important step in clarifying the life cycle of the raw material to form stars.
“The interstellar medium, which is the matter and radiation that exist in the space between the stars, is regulated by the formation of stars and supernovae, with the latter being the violent explosions that occur during the last evolutionary stages of stars that are more than ten times more massive than the sun,” explains Patrick Hennebelle, who along with Klessen coordinates the theoretical work in the ECOgal project.
“Associations of supernovae are very efficient at sustaining turbulence and lifting the gas in a stratified disk,” clarifies the experimenter at the Department of Astronomy at the CEA/Saclay in France. “The finding of these filamentary structures in the atomic hydrogen is an important step in understanding the process responsible for the galaxy-scale star formation.”