(ORDO NEWS) — About 13.8 billion years ago, our universe was born in a powerful explosion that gave birth to the first subatomic particles and the laws of physics as we know them.
About 370,000 years later, hydrogen formed, the building block of stars that fuse hydrogen and helium in their bowels to create increasingly heavier elements. Although hydrogen remains the most abundant element in the universe, it is difficult to detect individual clouds of hydrogen gas in the interstellar medium (ISM).
This makes it difficult to study the early phases of star formation, which may provide clues about the evolution of galaxies and space.
An international team led by astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) recently noticed a massive filament of atomic hydrogen in our galaxy. Called “Maggie,” this structure is located about 55,000 light-years from us (on the other side of the Milky Way) and is one of the longest structures ever observed in our galaxy.
Top: A portion of the Milky Way as measured by ESA‘s Gaia satellite (top). The rectangle marks the location of the “Maggie” thread and the depiction of the atomic hydrogen distribution in false colors (below), the red line indicates the “Maggie” thread.
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