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‘Pigtail’ molecular cloud discovered in galactic center

Washington, September 6 (ANI): A research team from the Department of Physics, Keio University, has discovered a molecular cloud with a peculiar helical structure.

The team led by Shinji Matsumura, a second year Ph.D. candidate, and Tomoharu Oka, an Associate Professor, named it a “pigtail” molecular cloud from its morphology.

The “pigtail” molecular cloud, located in the galactic center, approximately 30,000 light-years away from the solar system, was observed with the help of NRO 45m telescope at Nobeyama Radio Observatory (NAOJ), National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

Giant molecular clouds in this region orbit around the galactic center along two closed orbits. At the bottom of the pigtail molecular cloud, these two orbits intersect.

The research team analyzed multiple molecular spectral lines in detail. The researchers have revealed that the two giant molecular clouds collide with one another at exactly the bottom of the “pigtail” molecular cloud.

These findings suggest that the helical structure of the “pigtail” molecular cloud formed when the two molecular clouds with different orbits frictionally collided and the magnetic tube was twisted.

It is generally thought that helical structure of gas is associated with twisted and coiled magnetic lines. The structure is occasionally observed in astronomical phenomena with magnetic force, such as the solar coronae or the jets related to the super-massive black hole in galactic center.

The “pigtail” molecular cloud is an important clue in probing molecular cloud dynamics in the galactic disc, as well as the structure of magnetic fields, due to its close location to the galactic disc.

The results of this research have provided important findings on the role cosmic magnetic fields play in the galactic center. (ANI)