April 17, 2024

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Webb telescope reveals mysterious secrets about “bricks”

Webb telescope reveals mysterious secrets about “bricks”

New research on the central region of the Milky Way, “The Brick”, using the James Webb Space Telescope, has revealed a paradox: high levels of carbon dioxide ice but low rates of star formation. These results challenge established theories about star formation and suggest a re-evaluation of molecular processes in our galaxy. (Artist’s concept.) Credit: SciTechDaily.com

UF astronomer Adam Ginsburg quips James Webb Space Telescope To explore the mystery of the galaxy.

In a recent study led by… University of Florida Astronomer Adam Ginsberg said the groundbreaking findings shed light on a mysterious dark region at the center of the galaxy milky way. The turbulent gas cloud, nicknamed the “brick” because of its opacity, has sparked lively debate within the scientific community for years.

To unlock its secrets, Ginsburg and his research team, including University of Florida graduate students Desmond Jeff, Savannah Gramsey, and Alyssa Polatek, turned to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Implications of their observations, published in the Astrophysical Journal,huge. The results not only reveal a paradox within the center of our galaxy, but point to an urgent need to re-evaluate established theories of star formation.

Brick puzzle

The Brick Zone has been one of the most interesting and widely studied regions in our galaxies, thanks to its unexpectedly low star formation rate. It has defied scientists’ expectations for decades: As a cloud filled with dense gas, it should be ready to give birth to new stars. However, it shows an unexpectedly low star formation rate.

Using the advanced infrared capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope, the team of researchers looked at the bricks and discovered a significant presence of frozen carbon monoxide (CO) there. It contains much more carbon dioxide ice than previously expected, which has profound implications for our understanding of star formation processes.

No one knew how much ice there was at the center of the galaxy, according to Ginsburg. “Our observations convincingly show that ice is so widespread there that every future observation must take it into account,” he said.

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Stars typically appear when gases are cold, and the large presence of carbon dioxide ice should indicate a thriving region for star formation in the bricks. However, despite this wealth of carbon dioxide, Ginsburg and the research team found that the structure defies expectations. The gas inside the brick is warmer than similar clouds.

Inner Milky Way filament nebula with stars

The center of the galaxy is full of stars: there are more than half a million in this image. Using specialized James Webb Space Telescope filters and a little Photoshop, the team was able to remove the stars and reveal only the filamentous nebula of hot gas that permeates the inner galaxy. (See image below with stars removed.) Credit: Adam Ginsburg

The filament nebula inside the Milky Way

Image of a filamentous nebula of hot gas permeating the inner galaxy. The bright areas are where the hydrogen is hot plasma, glowing from the energy of massive stars. The brick is the dark area where that glowing plasma is blocked. Along the edge of the brick, the glow is bluer: This blue appearance is caused by carbon dioxide ice blocking red light, allowing only blue to pass through. Credit: Adam Ginsburg

Challenging established theories

These observations challenge our understanding of the abundance of carbon dioxide at the center of our galaxy and the critical gas-to-dust ratio there. According to the results, both measures appear to be lower than previously thought.

“With the James Webb Space Telescope, we are opening new paths to measuring molecules in the solid (ice) phase, whereas previously we were limited to looking at gas,” Ginsberg said. “This new look gives us a more complete look at where molecules are and how they are transported.”

Traditionally, CO2 monitoring has been limited to emissions from the gas. To detect the distribution of carbon dioxide ice within this vast cloud, researchers needed intense background lighting from stars and hot gas. Their findings go beyond the limits of previous measurements, which were limited to about a hundred stars. The new results include more than ten thousand stars, providing valuable insights into the nature of interstellar ice.

Adam Ginsburg

Adam Ginsburg, Ph.D. Credit: Adam Ginsburg

Since the molecules in our solar system today were, at one point, ice on tiny dust grains that combined to form planets and comets, this discovery also represents a leap forward toward understanding the origins of the molecules that make up our cosmic ocean.

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These are just the team’s preliminary findings from a small portion of the James Webb Space Telescope’s observations of the brick. Looking to the future, Ginsberg has his sights set on conducting a more comprehensive survey of celestial ice.

“We don’t know, for example, the relative amounts of carbon dioxide, water, carbon dioxide, and complex molecules,” Ginsberg said. “Using spectroscopy, we can measure that and get an idea of ​​how the chemistry progresses over time in these clouds.”

Advances in cosmic exploration

With the advent of the James Webb Space Telescope and its advanced filters, Ginsburg and his colleagues have the most promising opportunity yet to expand our cosmic exploration.

In a recent study conducted by astronomer Adam Ginsberg of the University of Florida, pioneering results shed light on a mysterious dark region at the center of the Milky Way. The turbulent gas cloud, nicknamed the “brick” because of its opacity, has sparked lively debate within the scientific community for years.

To unlock its secrets, Ginsburg and his research team, including University of Florida graduate students Desmond Jeff, Savannah Gramsey, and Alyssa Polatek, turned to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Implications of their observations, published in Astrophysical Journal,huge. The results not only reveal a paradox within the center of our galaxy, but point to an urgent need to re-evaluate established theories of star formation.

The Brick Zone has been one of the most interesting and widely studied regions in our galaxies, thanks to its unexpectedly low star formation rate. It has defied scientists’ expectations for decades: As a cloud filled with dense gas, it should be ready to give birth to new stars. However, it shows an unexpectedly low star formation rate.

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Using the advanced infrared capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope, the team of researchers looked at the bricks and discovered a significant presence of frozen carbon monoxide (CO) there. It contains much more carbon dioxide ice than previously expected, which has profound implications for our understanding of star formation processes.

No one knew how much ice there was at the center of the galaxy, according to Ginsburg. “Our observations convincingly show that ice is so widespread there that every future observation must take it into account,” he said.

Stars typically appear when gases are cold, and the large presence of carbon dioxide ice should indicate a thriving region for star formation in the bricks. However, despite this wealth of carbon dioxide, Ginsburg and the research team found that the structure defies expectations. The gas inside the brick is warmer than similar clouds.

These observations challenge our understanding of the abundance of carbon dioxide at the center of our galaxy and the critical gas-to-dust ratio there. According to the results, both measures appear to be lower than previously thought.

“With the James Webb Space Telescope, we are opening new paths to measuring molecules in the solid (ice) phase, whereas previously we were limited to looking at gas,” Ginsberg said. “This new look gives us a more complete look at where molecules are and how they are transported.”

Traditionally, CO2 monitoring has been limited to emissions from the gas. To detect the distribution of carbon dioxide ice within this vast cloud, researchers needed intense background lighting from stars and hot gas. Their findings go beyond the limits of previous measurements, which were limited to about a hundred stars. The new results include more than ten thousand stars, providing valuable insights into the nature of interstellar ice.

Since the molecules in our solar system today were, at one point, ice on tiny dust grains that combined to form planets and comets, this discovery also represents a leap forward toward understanding the origins of the molecules that make up our cosmic ocean.

These are just the team’s preliminary findings from a small portion of the James Webb Space Telescope’s observations of the brick. Looking to the future, Ginsberg has his sights set on a more comprehensive survey of celestial ice.

“We don’t know, for example, the relative amounts of carbon dioxide, water, carbon dioxide, and complex molecules,” Ginsberg said. “Using spectroscopy, we can measure that and get an idea of ​​how the chemistry progresses over time in these clouds.”

With the advent of the James Webb Space Telescope and its advanced filters, Ginsburg and his colleagues have the most promising opportunity yet to expand our cosmic exploration.

Reference: “JWST Reveals Widespread Distribution of Ice and Carbon Dioxide Gas in the Galactic Center Cloud G0.253+0.016” by Adam Ginsberg and Ashley T. Barnes, and Kara D. Sheng Lu, EAC Mills and Daniel L. Walker, December 4, 2023, Astrophysical Journal.
doi: 10.3847/1538-4357/acfc34