A grand hydrogen map of the Milky Way has been prepared by scientists for the first time, revealing new information regarding the spaces between stars.
The superior map HI4PI was compiled after taking vast data from two huge radio telescopes: the Max Planck radio telescope in Germany and CSIRO radio telescope in Australia.
The HI4PI survey mapped neutral atomic hydrogen, considering its abundance in space and status as the main component of stars and galaxies. The meticulous study comes after millions of personal observations and data points that numbered more than 10 billion.
Published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, the new mapping scores over a previous study, which was named the Leiden-Argentine-Bonn (LAB) survey in terms of sensitivity and angular resolution.
Reflecting on the merits of the new map, University of Bonn astronomer Jürgen Kerp called it a big leap over the earlier study, which was hamstrung by the difficult sampling of the sky.
According to him, in HI4PI data, pilot studies were showing a wealth of structures unseen before.
In the new map, even tiny clouds are visible. That is important because they are vital as having been instrumental in hastening the formation of stars in the Milky Way.
Thanks to more than a million individual observations, the new outcome is telling the tale with all fine details of the structures between stars, according to the German and Australian scientists.
The data gathered by the big radio telescopes reflect the cumulative hydrogen content and explain the locations of so many dwarf galaxies.
"We've been able to produce a whole-sky image that in many ways are greater than the sum of its parts," Lister Staveley-Smith of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) said.
Many Questions On The Milky Way Answered
Star formation in the Milky Way for billions of years has been abetted by gas clouds. From the map, convincing answers on questions related to the Milky Way, and galaxies in the neighborhood, can be obtained.
According to Staveley-Smith, mysteries such as the source of gas for the Milky Way for sustained star formation and the position of dwarf galaxies have been answered by the new study, and it certainly has more excitement in store.
The project, which used 10 billion individual data points, revealed that the Milky Way as a galactic home contains 400 billion stars. The distance of the solar system from the Galactic Center is an average 27,000 light years.
In short, the HI4PI map marks the great strides made in astronomy after the advent of new telescopes and use of latest scientific techniques.