Single cloud of dust and gas bigger than the Milky Way is in a 'no man's land' for galaxies 

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    Single cloud of gas that is BIGGER than the Milky Way and has 10 billion times the mass of the sun has been discovered in a ‘no man’s land’ for galaxies

    • An isolated cloud larger than the Milky Way has been discovered in deep space 
    • The gas cloud has a mass of 10 billion suns and is between 10,000 and 10,000,000 degrees Kelvin
    • It is located in Abell 1367, a galaxy cluster roughly 330 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo 
    • It was discovered using the European Space Agency X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission
    • The cloud likely survived for hundreds of millions of years after it left its former galaxy  

    An isolated cloud larger than the Milky Way galaxy itself has been discovered in deep space in an unusual spot, a new study says.

    The cloud – which is made up of gas, has a mass of 10 billion suns and is between 10,000 and 10,000,000 Kelvin – is located in Abell 1367, a galaxy cluster roughly 330 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo.

    The researchers made their recent find using the European Space Agency X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission.

    ‘This is an exciting and also a surprising discovery,’ one of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Ming Sun, an associate professor of physics at University of Alabama Huntsville, said in a statement. 

    ‘It demonstrates that new surprises are always out there in astronomy, as the oldest of the natural sciences.’ 

    The discovery becomes even more odd when compared to the rest of Abell 1367, which contains roughly 70 galaxies, clustered together.

    ‘However, the cloud is not associated with any galaxy and is in a ‘no-galaxy’s land,’ Sun explained, adding it most likely came from a far, unknown galaxy part of the cluster. 

    An isolated cloud larger than the Milky Way galaxy itself has been discovered in deep space in an unusual spot

    An isolated cloud larger than the Milky Way galaxy itself has been discovered in deep space in an unusual spot

    The cloud, which is made up of gas, has a mass of 10 billion suns and is between 10,000 and 10,000,000 degrees Kelvin, is located in Abell 1367, a galaxy cluster roughly 330 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo

    The cloud, which is made up of gas, has a mass of 10 billion suns and is between 10,000 and 10,000,000 degrees Kelvin, is located in Abell 1367, a galaxy cluster roughly 330 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo

    The discovery becomes even more odd when compared to the rest of Abell 1367, which contains roughly 70 galaxies, clustered together.'The cloud is not associated with any galaxy and is in a'no-galaxy's land' and most likely came from a far, unknown galaxy part of the cluster

    The discovery becomes even more odd when compared to the rest of Abell 1367, which contains roughly 70 galaxies, clustered together. ‘The cloud is not associated with any galaxy and is in a ‘no-galaxy’s land’ and most likely came from a far, unknown galaxy part of the cluster

    ‘The gas in the cloud is removed by ram pressure of the hot gas in the cluster, when the host galaxy is soaring in the hot gas with a velocity of 1,000-2,000 kilometers per second.’

    By comparison, the Earth’s orbital speed around the sun is roughly 30 kilometers per second, or 67,000 miles per hour.

    That level of force is likely what has caused the temperature of the cloud to remain consistent and rip it from its galaxy.  

    ‘It is like when your hairs and clothes are flying backward when you are running forward against a strong headwind,’ Dr. Sun explained. 

    ‘Once removed from the host galaxy, the cloud is initially cold and is evaporating in the host intracluster medium, like ice melting in the summer.’

    The cloud is estimated to have survived for hundreds of millions of years after it left the galaxy, which has experts puzzled for now. 

    ‘This surprising longevity is poorly understood but may have something to do with the magnetic field in the cloud,’ Dr. Sun says.

    The researchers need additional study to figure out why the cloud and others that may be like it could give new insight into interstellar mediums, as well as how turbulent they get and how they conduct heat.

    The research was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

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