Neutral hydrogen clouds hurtling towards earth mapped for the first time | Science | News

The map reveals the location of the clouds some of which are hurtling towards our solar system at hundreds of miles a second.

Astronomer Dr Tobias Westmeier said: “These gas clouds are moving towards or away from us at speeds of up to a few hundred kilometres per second.

“They are clearly separate objects.”

The map reveals the gas that is in and near our galaxy but is inexplicably moving through space at different speeds.

Dr Westmeier said: “It’s something that wasn’t really visible in the past, and it could provide new clues about the origin of these clouds and the physical conditions within them.”

Scientists have theories about the origin of the phenomenon but for many, the clouds still remain a complete mystery.

The expert said: “We know for certain the origin of one of the long trails of gas, known as the Magellanic Stream because it seems to be connected to the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

“But all the rest, the origin is unknown.”

Dr Westmeier created the map by taking images of the gas clouds and then masking out those moving at the same speed as the Milky Way.

After his painstaking work the astronomer was left with the most deal all-sky map of high-velocity clouds in existence.

The map was made using data from the HI4PI survey of the sky, combining information the observatories in Australia and Germany.

He said: “We now know that the clouds are very close to the Milky Way, within about 30,000 light years of the disc.

“That means it’s likely to either be gas that is falling into the Milky Way or outflows from the Milky Way itself.

“For example, if there is star formation or a supernova explosion it could push gas high above the disc.”

The new map follows news of the discovery of a new planet that “defies expectations”.

A giant “death planet” has also baffled NASA scientists who have been unable to explain its hellish atmosphere.

The planet named Wasp-18b has a toxic atmosphere making it impossible for it to support life with an upper atmosphere swamped by toxic carbon monoxide.

NASA’s Kyle Sheppard, who led the study, said: “The composition of WASP-18b defies all expectations.

“We don’t know of any other extrasolar planet where carbon monoxide so completely dominates the upper atmosphere.”

The planet is unique among those observed by humans with NASA previously believing such a world could not exist.

The unexpected composition of the planet means it could redefine the way scientists think gas giants…

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