Astronomers Discover Massive Gas Outflow in Virgo Cluster Galaxy, Revealing Unique Insights into Universe’s Evolutionary Cycle

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – The interplay between outflows propelled by stellar feedback and the gas-star formation cycle holds a vital role in understanding cosmic phenomena. However, obtaining high-resolution data to elucidate the physics behind outflows is often challenging, as ideal study subjects are rare.

A recent study led by a team of international astronomers has unveiled groundbreaking insights into the gas-star formation cycle within the Virgo cluster environment. Through the newly established VLT/MUSE extensive program MAUVE (MUSE and ALMA Unveiling the Virgo Environment), researchers delved into the galaxy NGC 4383 situated in the Virgo cluster, disclosing a colossal gas outflow spanning such a vast distance that light requires 20,000 years to traverse from end to end.

The genesis of such immense gas outflows can be traced back to violent star explosions in the galaxy’s central regions, expelling copious amounts of hydrogen and heavier elements equivalent to over 50 million Suns’ mass. Moreover, astronomers have successfully crafted the premier high-resolution map capturing a massive explosion within the nearby galaxy NGC 4383, shedding light on the dissemination of chemical elements across intergalactic space.

Utilizing data acquired from the MAUVE survey, the research team compiled this intricate high-resolution map. Dr. Adam Watts, the study’s lead author hailing from the University of Western Australia, emphasized the scarcity of knowledge surrounding outflows’ physics and properties due to their elusive nature, remarking on the rare opportunity to observe the outflow’s rich heavy element composition, showcasing the intricate process of blending hydrogen with metals.

Professor Barbara Catinella and Professor Luca Cortese, co-authors of the study and MAUVE co-leaders, articulated the project’s purpose in investigating the impact of physical processes such as gas outflows on curbing star formation in galaxies. NGC 4383 was selected as the initial target based on suspicions of intriguing phenomena, which were surpassed by the unexpected data outcomes.

Future observations conducted under the MAUVE initiative are anticipated to provide a detailed panorama elucidating the significance of gas outflows within the adjacent Universe, paving the way for further discoveries in cosmic phenomena.