Galaxies grow by accumulating new material and then turn them into stars, including our own galaxy. But scientists do not know from where new material comes from and how it flows into galaxies to create stars.
Arizona State University astronomer Sanchayeeta Borthakur has identified the faint fuel reservoirs that surround galaxies. Borthakur found out this fuel can fall into galaxies which allows them to form new stars and planetary systems. The study has been published in the American Astronomical Society’s Astrophysical Journal.
Previous research in the field of star formation found out some galaxies are producing more stars than their reserve of star-forming gas can allow. Borthakur thought that new gas must be coming into the galaxies. It is supporting the formation of new stars and planets.
Borthakur used a statistical method called cross-correlation to determine where the gas might be originating. Borthakur also used data from two publicly available astronomy catalogues. The ALFALFA survey from the Arecibo telescope and the Survey of the Low-Redshift Intergalactic Medium from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. Then Borthakur quantified how gas-rich galaxies are associated with clouds seen in the intergalactic medium.
Borthakur hopes to identify the pathways in which these gas clouds can reach the inner regions of the galaxies where stars are formed.