Friday, February 20, 2009

old gas learning new tricks

From New Scientist: 'Primordial' gas ring gives birth to baby galaxies

The Leo ring is "a giant stream of hydrogen and helium gas" around two "older" galaxies about 35 million light years away. Discovered in the early '80s, the ring is thought to have formed early in the history of the universe. Recently, though, clumps of young stars have been found in the ring. These "infant dwarf galaxies" are considered very unique because they formed without the assistance of dark matter, which is strange because it's theorized that dark matter is the seed of galaxies, pulling regular matter in, and also because other dwarf galaxies have been observed to contain up to 10,000 times as much dark matter as regular matter. Scientists are planning to measure the metallicity of the cloud to see if it really is as old as they think it is.

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