Researchers have found a way to create a 3D model of an interstellar gas cloud, which could lead to breakthroughs in astronomy.
Astronomers in Greece have assembled a three-dimensional model of an interstellar gas cloud, a stunning achievement that shows in incredible detail what these massive explosions look like. They also discovered that it is 10 times more spacious than scientists originally believed, describing their findings in the journal Science.
This 3D model could help scientists better understand the origins and evolution of stars, and also their planets. Interstellar clouds are fascinating subjects because they are essentially breeding grounds for new stars, which condense from these huge clouds of gas and dust. Scientists study them with infrared light because the dust blocks the light of background stars making them look like holes in the night sky.
But scientists have had trouble studying them even in infrared light because they appear as a flat structure, making it tough to measure things like density or structure. The creation of this 3D model of a interstellar gas cloud makes it possible to study them in much greater detail.
“All sorts of different physical and chemical processes take place in their interior, and as a result, the process of star formation is poorly understood,” senior author Konstantinos Tassis, an astrophysicist at the University of Crete, said in an email to the Los Angeles Times. “How does a giant cloud of a million solar masses break up into smaller pieces, and how do these fragments condense into stars similar to our sun? What makes a cloud form a lot of small stars or a few larger ones? These problems, although they are directly related to the question of the origin of our sun, our planet, and, ultimately, ourselves, are still very much a mystery.”