Astronomers have found out what prevents the birth of new stars in galaxies and kills them

Astronomers studying the nearby universe using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array

range (ALMA), have just completed the largeststudy of star-forming "fuel" in galaxy clusters. But more importantly, this work solves a long-standing mystery in astrophysics: what exactly is killing galaxies and preventing new stars from being born in them? It turns out that they lose gas, which is necessary for this process, when they rush through the hot plasma, which is rich in the environment of galaxies.

In their work, scientists studied the Virgo cluster -a cluster containing from 1,300 to 2,000 galaxies. Astronomers have paid special attention to the environment of the cluster, namely the presence of carbon monoxide in it in the framework of the VERTICO project.

“We know that galaxies are dying because of theirenvironment, and we want to know why, ”said Toby Brown, Research Fellow at the National Research Council of Canada and lead author of the article. "VERTICO helps us understand what physical processes affect molecular gas and how they determine the life and death of a galaxy."

In this composite image, the radio wavesALMA's observations of the molecular gas disks of VERTICO galaxies are magnified 20 times. They are superimposed on an X-ray image of a hot plasma in the Virgo cluster. Credit: ALMA (ESO / NAOJ / NRAO) / S. Dagnello (NRAO) / Böhringer et al.

Galaxies are large clusters of stars, and theirbirth, evolution and death depend on where they are in the universe and how they interact with the environment. Clusters of galaxies represent some of the most extreme environments in the universe, making them especially interesting for scientists studying the evolution of stellar systems.

Within the VERTICO project, scientists observed 51galaxy in the Virgo cluster in high resolution. They found an environment so extreme and inhospitable that it could prevent entire galaxies from forming stars in the process. “The Virgo Cluster is the most extreme region of the local Universe, filled with plasma with a temperature of a million degrees. Galaxies move with great speed, interacting violently with each other and the environment, forming a real cemetery in the cluster, ”explains the author of the study. - Gas disappears from galaxies as they move through hot plasma. Most of all, it looks like someone sweeps it out with a huge space broom. "

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