Astronomers Discover Mysterious Cloud Near the Center of Milky Way
In a groundbreaking study, scientists have identified a peculiar object named “The Brick,” situated in the heart of the Milky Way. This dense and turbulent cloud of gas, known as an infrared dark cloud (IDC), has become an intriguing enigma for astronomers due to its surprising lack of star formation.
Despite being one of the most massive and dense molecular clouds in our galaxy, The Brick shows minimal signs of giving birth to new stars. This discovery has baffled scientists working to unravel the mysteries of star formation.
The Brick, located in the Milky Way’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), is a complex region known to contain approximately 60 million solar masses of gas and dark molecular clouds that serve as the birthplaces of stars. To better comprehend The Brick and its surrounding CMZ, astronomers have turned to the revolutionary James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
Equipped with advanced technologies, the JWST has the capability to analyze dense regions and employ carbon monoxide (CO) as a tracer of movement and density in interstellar clouds. Led by Adam Ginsburg from the University of Florida, a team of researchers utilized the JWST’s NIRCam to conduct a comprehensive study on The Brick.
Their findings revealed a surprising amount of CO ice within The Brick, challenging the current star formation models. Additionally, the gas inside The Brick was found to be relatively warmer than in other clouds. These discoveries may explain the cloud’s exceptionally low rate of star formation.
Moreover, the JWST observations have also led to a revised understanding of the overall abundance of CO in the Galactic Center (GC) and a reassessment of the gas-to-dust ratio in the region. These revelations have the potential to impact star formation models not only within The Brick but also in other galaxies.
The research conducted by Ginsburg’s team is the first paper based on the JWST observations of The Brick. Future observations, including those from the MIRI instrument, are expected to provide further insights into the structure and behavior of The Brick and other structures within the CMZ.
This groundbreaking study unlocks new possibilities for unraveling the mysteries of star formation and expands our knowledge of the complex mechanisms operating within our galaxy. The enigma of The Brick continues to captivate astronomers, who are now excitedly awaiting more revelations from the James Webb Space Telescope.
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