Sunday, 13 January 2008

Huge gas cloud will hit Milky Way

A giant cloud of hydrogen gas is racing towards a collision with the Milky Way, astronomers have announced. Smith's Cloud, as it is known, may set off spectacular fireworks when it smacks into our galaxy. It contains enough hydrogen to make a million stars like the Sun, say experts, and its leading edge is already hitting gas from our galaxy. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it – it will be 20-40 million years for the collision happens.
When it does hit, the cloud could indeed set off a new burst of star formation in the Milky Way. Details of the work, by a team at the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, were unveiled at the 211th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.

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