Swinburne University astronomers have broken a record and seen atomic hydrogen emission in galaxies 3 billion light years from Earth.
Astronomers used the world’s largest radio telescope to detect a signal from the atomic hydrogen gas. The previous record was 500 million light years. Their observations also uncovered a unique population of gas-rich galaxies containing a mass of atomic gas up to 80 billion times the mass of the sun.
Australian Research Council Future Fellow Dr Barbara Catinella said it’s important to continue to investigate atomic gas content if we are to understand galaxies. “Atomic hydrogen gas is the fuel out of which new stars are formed, hence it is a crucial component to study if we are to understand how galaxies form and evolve,” she said. “Because of the limitations of current instruments, astronomers know very little about the gas content of galaxies beyond our local neighbourhood.
Further studies will focus on why galaxies have retained the gas rather than converting the gas into stars. The billion dollars Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project will be a major driver behind future research.
Incredible records are broken by Australian universities every day. Support investment into higher education. Let’s not get left behind, Australia.
[img source] adam gaston (CCA2.0) bit.ly/1tKrkER