Mystery of the Milky Way’s largest galactic cloud

The mystery of the Milky Way's largest galactic cloud discovered by scientists at the edge of the Cosmos.

A mysterious galactic cloud, larger than the Milky Way is thrilling astronomy enthusiasts and scholars. The cloud was discovered in an area of the Cosmos called Abell 1367 by a team of researchers led by Ming Sun, associate professor of physics at UAH.

A cloud at the edge of Space

This area of the Universe - still little known - has been called the Lion Cluster by experts. It is located 300 million light years from our Planet and contains as many as 70 galaxies. The cloud, called "orphan" or "lonely", was discovered during the Mission of High Performance X-Ray Spectroscopy (XMM-Newton). It was therefore detected by Europe's most important X-ray space telescope in the hands of the European Space Agency (ESA). The data collected and processed, were then analyzed at the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope/Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (VLT/MUSE) and confirmed by the Japanese optical telescope.

The mysteries of the lonely cloud

The mysterious cloud contains glowing gas and has a temperature ranging from 10,000 to 10,000,000 degrees Kelvin. To strike scientists, however, was especially its mass that is 10 billion times that of our Sun, therefore much larger than the Milky Way, the galaxy to which our solar system belongs. The cloud is located in a cluster of galaxies linked together through a glowing gas, with temperatures around 100 million degrees Kelvin. The peculiarity of this galactic cloud? Unlike the others is solitary and is not associated with any other cloud. A particular phenomenon that is still under consideration by scholars and that could be related to its origins.

Scientists speculate that the cloud had originated from a huge galaxy and separated to it because of high temperatures and different speed of the celestial bodies. The mysterious cloud, after being removed from the "host galaxy", would have managed to survive for hundreds of millions of years. All thanks to its magnetic field that would have held together the material that composes it, counteracting the unstable forces that acted to dissipate it.  "This is an exciting and surprising discovery - explained Professor Ming Sun -. It shows that out there there are still many new surprises."