Star formation has produced a 20,000 light-year-long gas plume from the galaxy NGC 4383

May 13, 2024  22:31

Astronomers have discovered a massive gas outflow from the galaxy NGC 4383 using the MUSE spectrograph installed on the Very Large Telescope as part of the MAUVE astronomical program. It is presumed that the outflow was triggered by bursts of star formation and supernova explosions. Studying the structure and composition of this outflow sheds light on star formation cycles in galaxies, reports.

An international team of scientists detected a massive outflow of ionized gas in the galaxy NGC 4383, located in the Virgo Cluster. According to Ars Technica, researchers were able to obtain a detailed image of this gas structure with a resolution of 100 parsecs (326 light-years). It was found that the length of the outflow exceeds 19,000 light-years and is the result of active star formation in the central region of NGC 4383. During the process of star formation, a huge amount of various elements, including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur, was expelled from the depths of the galaxy. According to estimates by scientists, the total mass of ejected gas is 50 million solar masses, which is quite astonishing.

Astronomers have long suspected that powerful gas outflows play a key role in the evolution of galaxies. Gas expelled from stellar interiors contaminates the interstellar medium inside galaxies and, partially reaching intergalactic space, ceases to serve as raw material for forming new stars. Therefore, it is believed that giant gas outflows can ultimately lead to the demise of galaxies as they lose the ability to form stars and slowly "die off". Observations of NGC 4383 confirm this hypothesis.

Measurements showed that the average velocity of the gas ejected by the galaxy is 210 kilometers per second, with a maximum velocity of 300 kilometers per second. These values ​​are consistent with theoretical models that take into account the visible stellar mass of NGC 4383 and the observed rates of star formation in it. Calculations also show that nearly two million solar masses of matter pass through this gas outflow annually. For comparison, the mass of all matter in our Galaxy is estimated to be approximately 600 billion solar masses.

It is noted that such detailed research into the structure of ionized gas in NGC 4383 became possible thanks to the unique capabilities of modern instruments, including the MUSE spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile and the ALMA array of 66 radio telescopes.

The results of the study were obtained within the framework of the international scientific program MAUVE (MUSE and ALMA Unveiling the Virgo Environment), the goal of which is to study the role of powerful gas outflows from galaxies in their further evolution and possible demise.

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