Recently, a team of astronomers working at the University of Notre Dame has discovered that a gigantic hydrogen cloud is heading towards our galaxy. According to their estimations, the Smith Cloud will hit the Milky Way in 30 million years, and the gas which will emanate from the impact will be enough to create 2 million new Suns.
- Smith Cloud was discovered in 1960 by Gail Smith;
- The cloud has 11.000 light-years in length, and 2.500 light-years in width;
- It contains high levels of hydrogen and sulphur and it is also emitting radio waves;
- The Smith Cloud will return to the Milky Way in 30 million years;
- Smith is travelling at a top speed of 700.000 miles per hour.
The Smith Cloud, a gigantic hydrogen cloud was discovered in the early ‘60s by a Gail Smith, a doctoral student. The reason why the doctoral student was able to detect the massive gas cloud is because the hydrogen inside the cloud emits high levels of radio waves.
Since the hydrogen cloud was first detected, scientists have studied it in detail. According to the latest observations, the massive gas cloud spans has over 11.000 light-years in length and spans over a distance of 2.500 light-years. Also, the scientists believe that the cloud formation is older than 70 million years.
Having discovered what the Smith Cloud is up to, the scientists proceeded on figuring out the gas cluster’s origin. And might we add that they were successful in doing just that. According to their theory, the gigantic hydrogen cloud, known as the Smith Cloud, did not exist on its own.
In fact, it would seem that the hydrogen cloud was part of the Milky Way. But approximately 30 million years ago, something unexpected happened. That event forces our galaxy to expel the gas cloud in outer space. Since then, the Smith cloud is wandering around the Universe, and according to the latest observations, it will be returning to its homeland in approximately 30 million years.
Travelling at a speed of 700.000 mph, the Smith Cloud will hit the Milky Way in 30 million years. The scientists were able to determine the origin of the gas cloud by using the origin spectrograph, an apparatus capable of analysing the frequency spectrum of light.
Using this technique, they have discovered that the gas cloud also contains a high level of Sulphur. Having this in mind, the scientists have compared the level of sulphur found in the cloud with the Milky Way’s sulphur deposits.
They have discovered that the gas cloud has the same level of sulphur as the outer disc of the Milky Way, thus proving that the Smith cloud was expelled from our galaxy and it is now returning home.
Also, in order to determine the cloud’s course of speed, the scientists observed how UV lights from 3 different galaxies are being filtered through the hydrogen cloud.