Where galaxies live in the universe and the way they interact with their surroundings, i.e. the intergalactic medium around them, mainly influences their ability to produce new stars. The ambiguity of this interaction is precisely what determines the mysterious life cycle of galaxies.
Modern astrophysicists have found that distant galaxies are dying as they are being rampantly stripped of their ability to produce new stars. Hence, entire galaxies in the most extreme regions of the universe are meeting a fateful end and slowly, vanishing as their exiting stars fade away or die in violent supernovas for reasons unknown.
Galaxy clusters are the most massive entities in the universe, full of environmental extremities. Holding together hundreds of thousands of galaxies, the clusters have such huge gravitation forces present in them, that it super-heats the plasma in between galaxies to temperatures so high, that it glows with an X-ray light, according to McMaster University astrophysicist Toby Brown as reported by The Conversation. Now, a team is investigating the nearby Virgo Cluster to find out if something like this, is happening there.
The new program, called the Virgo Environment Traced in Carbon Monoxide survey (VERTICO) is investigating this in great detail, as to how, galaxies are dying due to their environments.
This first-ever Canadian-led large project is one of world’s leading telescopes hoping to uncover this anomaly. However, it is to be noted that galaxies are being killed, but they’re not suddenly disappearing from the face of the universe. Brown suggests that some undetermined factors are causing the formation of new stars to be shut down.
Brown’s team has thus, explored two possibilities to probe the still-forming Virgo Cluster.
The first possibility is ram pressure stripping, a process that vacuums away all the gas that a galaxy would use to form stars and flows it to nearby intergalactic plasma. The second possibility is that the environment inside a galactic cluster simply becomes too hot for cosmic gases to cool and condenses into stars, turning it into useless fuel, that ultimately kills the galaxy.
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