News Sci/Tech ALMA Discovers Molecular Clues in Starburst Galaxy
Starburst galaxy

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ALMA Discovers Molecular Clues in Starburst Galaxy

March 28, 2024

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The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has unveiled a cosmic treasure trove within the starburst galaxy NGC 253. This galaxy, located approximately 10 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor, hosts a celestial frenzy of star formation. In our quest to understand the intricate dance of stellar birth and evolution, ALMA's keen eye has detected more than 100 molecular species—far surpassing previous studies.

Mapping the Molecular Landscape

ALMA's comprehensive survey, aptly named ALCHEMI (ALMA Comprehensive High-resolution Extragalactic Molecular Inventory), provides a detailed atlas of NGC 253's molecular composition. Let's delve into the key findings:

1. High-Density Molecular Gas

The heart of NGC 253 pulsates with dense molecular gas, fueling an exuberant burst of star formation. Surprisingly, this galactic powerhouse boasts over 10 times the dense gas concentration found in our own Milky Way. It's no wonder that NGC 253 crafts new stars with an efficiency 30 times greater than our cosmic neighborhood.

2. Molecular Signposts

ALMA's molecular inventory includes a diverse array of chemical species. These molecules serve as cosmic signposts, narrating the epic saga of star birth—from its inception to its fiery finale. By deciphering this molecular lexicon, astronomers gain insights into the galaxy's dynamic history.

Implications and Future Endeavors

As we unravel NGC 253's molecular secrets, we stand at the threshold of deeper cosmic understanding. Armed with this knowledge, astronomers will fine-tune future ALMA observations, peering into other galaxies and unraveling their celestial mysteries.

Stay tuned for more cosmic revelations!

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