Discovery of the "Pigtail" molecular cloud

Sep 10, 2012
Image of “Pigtail” Molecular Cloud. Credit: Keio University, NAOJ

A research team of the Department of Physics, Keio University, has discovered a molecular cloud with a peculiar helical structure by observation with the NRO 45m Telescope at Nobeyama Radio Observatory, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The team named it a "pigtail" molecular cloud from its morphology. The "pigtail" molecular cloud is located in the Galactic center, approximately 30,000 light years away from the solar system.  Giant molecular clouds in this region orbit around the Galactic center along two closed orbits.  At the bottom of the pigtail molecular cloud, these two orbits intersect.  The research team analyzed multiple molecular spectral lines in detail. The researchers have revealed that the two giant molecular clouds collide with one another at exactly the bottom of the "pigtail" molecular cloud. These findings suggest that the helical structure of the "pigtail" molecular cloud formed when the two molecular clouds with different orbits frictionally collided and the magnetic tube was twisted.

It is generally thought that helical structure of gas is associated with twisted and coiled magnetic lines. The structure is occasionally observed in astronomical phenomena with magnetic force, such as the solar coronae or the jets related to the super- in . The is the plasma gas covering the outermost atmosphere of the Sun, and it has an extremely high temperature of approximately one million-degrees Kelvin.

Integrated intensity profile for 115-GHz rotational spectral lines of carbon monoxide. Credit: Keio University, NAOJ

Within a 600-light-year radius from the center of the Galaxy where we live, there is a high density of stars and molecular gas that forms stars. The molecular gas becomes a dense "molecular cloud," and it is thought to move mainly along two elliptical orbits around the . These two groups have a nested structure, and intersect at two points on the Galactic disc. At the intersections, both molecular clouds frequently collide. Researches so far suggest that those collisions between molecular clouds cause gas to be compressed, triggering active star formation. In addition, from previous radio observations, the existence of some radio sources extending perpendicularly from the Galactic disc has been confirmed. That means there is the flux of of approximately one milligauss perpendicular to the Galactic disc. However, the issue of whether the perpendicular magnetic fields exist throughout the Galactic center region (an approximately 600-light-year radius) or only locally has long been controversial.

Hasegawa, a member of the research team, noticed the existence of a helical molecular cloud when he carefully examined the mass data of 115-GHz rotational spectral lines emitted by carbon monoxide (CO) molecules. The 45m Telescope at Nobeyama Radio Observatory (NRO), NAOJ, acquired the data. The helical structure is approximately 60 light years by 60 light years. Wondering what this was, Hasegawa contacted his co-researcher, Oka, about it. Oka and other team members immediately searched a similar structure in the data taken by ASTE (Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment) covering the same region. Sure enough, they also found the same helical structure in the data of 346-GHz spectral lines emitted by CO molecules. However, the helical structure in that data was not clear. "Therefore, I proposed that we should make additional observations to confirm the existence of the molecular cloud with the helical structure, and to uncover what made this peculiar, helical-structure molecular cloud," said Oka.

After that, they started follow-up observations of the molecular cloud named "pigtail" due to its shape, using the NRO 45m Telescope. Matsumura explained, "In order to solve the mystery of the pigtail molecular cloud, we carried out high-resolution spectroscopic observations of rotational spectral lines for six other molecules. Those molecules are clues to understanding the physical state. "We were amazed by the clear and beautiful helical structure of the "pigtail" molecular cloud in the data taken by the follow-up observation. The data revealed that the pigtail molecular cloud has a huge volume of gas, several hundreds of thousands times greater than the Sun has.

Two giant molecular clouds with different radial velocities. The solid green line shows the pigtail molecular cloud.

On the other hand, from the analysis of several molecular spectral lines, they learned that the "pigtail" molecular cloud has relatively higher temperature and density [Tk~30 K、n(H2)~103.5 cm–3]. In addition, an increase in the abundance of silicon monoxide, SiO, a molecule which originates from a shock wave, was found. This means that an intense collision occurred in this area. At the bottom of the "pigtail" molecular cloud, two different molecular clouds intersect; one has a radial velocity of -40 kilometers per second, and another one is -110 kilometers per second. At the exact location of the "pigtail" molecular cloud and the intersection, gas functioning as a bridge between the two molecular clouds was detected. "Collecting these observational results and thinking comprehensively, we concluded that the collision of the two giant molecular clouds was deeply involved in the formation of the pigtail molecule cloud," told Matsumura.

The research team has proposed the following scenario on how the pigtail molecular cloud was formed:

1) The magnetic tube perpendicular to the Galactic disc exists between two giant molecular clouds. Those clouds move along the main two elliptical orbits around the Galactic nucleus.

2) The magnetic tube is twisted and squeezed to become a helical structure during the frictional contact.

3) The molecular gas is captured by the twisted magnetic tube, and then forms the "pigtail" molecular cloud.

The research team estimates that a perpendicular magnetic field of approximately one milligauss can be found locally. The "pigtail" molecular cloud formation is generated by the magnetic field. Theoretically speaking, it is expected that the creation of this type of helical structure would be difficult when magnetic fields extend over the all Galactic central region. In addition, it is estimated that approximately 1.8 million years is necessary for the growth of the "pigtail" molecular cloud. That period is equal to that of the two molecular clouds colliding with each other.

A pigtail molecular cloud formation scenario. Credit: Keio University, NAOJ

When you twist a straight string between your thumb and index finger, a helical structure is gradually formed. This is quite similar to what has happened in the distant universe at the galactic center.

"We emphasize two important points on our study," said Matsumura, the lead researcher. "First, it proves that two orbit groups caused by the bar-like structure actually intersect at this point in the Galactic center. Second, it shows that the perpendicular magnetic field of approximately one milligauss is locally confined."

So far, two other helical structures have been found around the Galactic center. The "pigtail" molecule cloud, however, has a much clearer than the others. Furthermore, the "pigtail" molecular cloud is an important clue in probing dynamics in the Galactic disc, as well as the structure of magnetic fields, due to its close location to the Galactic disc. Structures related to magnetic field can be found in any kind of astronomical phenomena, ranging from the solar surface to jets related to activity in galactic nucleus. Research on cosmic magnetic fields has significance for understanding the formation of a variety of phenomena in the Universe. The results of this research have provided important findings on the role cosmic magnetic fields play in the Galactic center.

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User comments : 26

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barakn
3 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2012
The first image claims to be an image but is obviously an artist's rendition, and should be labeled as such. The third image mentions a solid green line, but only a dashed green line is present.
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 11, 2012
"It is generally thought that helical structure of gas is associated with twisted and coiled magnetic lines."

This is partially correct, it is generally thought by plasma physicists that the helical structure is caused by two Birkeland currents twisting around each other, and those "coiled magnetic lines" cannot exist without an electric current. This perpendicular "pigtail" of PLASMA is the inter-galactic Birkeland current that is powering the galaxy, all of the descriptions of the observations they gave confirm the Electric Universe theory predictions. The EUT also has a simple explanation for the presence of the bar at the center of the galaxy as well. The ignorance of electromagnetism and circuit theory by astrophysicists is clearly hindering their ability to see what should otherwise be blatantly obvious!

Fleetfoot
not rated yet Sep 11, 2012
This perpendicular "pigtail" of PLASMA ..


The article is quite clear, the emissions have been observed in the rotational modes of neutral molecules, this particular cloud is NOT ionised plasma:

"Hasegawa, a member of the research team, noticed the existence of a helical molecular cloud when he carefully examined the mass data of 115-GHz rotational spectral lines emitted by carbon monoxide (CO) molecules. .... Sure enough, they also found the same helical structure in the data of 346-GHz spectral lines emitted by CO molecules.

"In order to solve the mystery of the pigtail molecular cloud, we carried out high-resolution spectroscopic observations of rotational spectral lines for six other molecules. Those molecules are clues to understanding the physical state."

Your religious beliefs are clearly hindering your ability to see what should otherwise be blatantly obvious.
cantdrive85
2 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2012
Fleet,

Obviously you don't find it strange that this "neutral gas cloud" has a complex magnetic field. If it's neutral, what could possibly create this electromagnetic field?
Being that the "researcher" has an obviously skewed understanding of EM, i.e. speaking of magnetic field "lines", speaking of "plasma gas", and not understanding twisting currents naturally create a helical structure, it is not much of a reach for me to wonder whether this "scientist" knows the difference between plasma and gas.

But, you can go on and have "faith" and "believe" the standard theory that reports that such structures are "mysterious", "peculiar", and "unexpected". Or, you can accept that when a theory PREDICTS such phenomenon and can recreate such phenomenon on a small scale in a lab that maybe that theory may have some validity. Clearly religious beliefs are part of the equation, but not on my part. Amen to you and your sacrosanct beliefs.
yyz
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 11, 2012
"wonder whether this "scientist" knows the difference between plasma and gas."

I think most scientists would agree that matter inside a molecular cloud at a temperature of 14-36K, as found in this study, is not a plasma: http://arxiv.org/...7.4704v1

Of course anonymous internet trolls are free to believe whatever unsupported nonsense they wish.

I find it odd though that you find no problem with the red-and-blue shifted spectroscopic lines used to confirm the physical reality of this feature but dismiss the same evidence when used to determine the distance to stars and galaxies.
Fleetfoot
4 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2012
Obviously you don't find it strange that this "neutral gas cloud" has a complex magnetic field.


Correct, just as I don't find it odd that the air near a bar magnet can have a magnetic field while being a "neutral gas cloud" and not a plasma.

If it's neutral, what could possibly create this electromagnetic field?


That remains to be seen, what is observed is the effect of a magnetic field on cold gas which might be a large distance from the field source.

Being that the "researcher" has an obviously skewed understanding of EM, i.e. speaking of magnetic field "lines" ..


Sprinkle some iron filings on a sheet of paper over a bar magnet and you will find out what he is talking about.

it is not much of a reach for me to wonder whether this "scientist" knows the difference between plasma and gas.


He does, you don't. The spectroscopy measured the rotational states of gas molecules, not plasma.
cantdrive85
2 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2012
You guys are assuming plasma must be hot, this is not the case. This from Anthony Peratt of Los Alamos Labs;

"For temperature (or energy), some plasma crystal states produced in the laboratory have temperatures close to absolute zero. On the other extreme, space plasmas have been measured with thermal temperatures above 10 9 degrees Kelvin and cosmic rays (a type of plasma with very large gyroradii) are observed at energies well above those produced in any man-made accelerator laboratory."

From absolute zero to 10 9, plasma exists in any temp range. Here is an article about 'Cold Plasma'. http://www.thunde...-plasma/

As we have seen that electrified plasma can exist in the reported temp range, does anything remain to be seen as to where the magnetic field originates? Not really.

cantdrive85
2 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2012
This from Don Scott Professor of electrical engineering for 39 years in regards to "field lines".
"Any electrical engineer (or physics student who has studied EM field theory) will easily show astrophysicists the error of their ways. All it takes to understand this argument is to recognize the clear difference between 1) conceptual constructs that are convenient tools for thinking about and visualizing a process, and 2) the physical process itself. The former (the concept) exists only in one's mind (or as a draftsman's artifice). It does not exist in three-dimensional space. The latter (the process) concerns the movement or interaction of things that really do exist in our world. Once this difference is fully grasped, it is easy to see that magnetic field lines do not (cannot) do anything in the real world – because they do not exist in the real world. And they do not move. They are instantaneous descriptors of (the magnitude and direction of) a vector field – and nothing more."
Fleetfoot
4 / 5 (4) Sep 12, 2012
You guys are assuming plasma must be hot, ..


Nope, I made no assumptions whatsoever, I just read the article which lists the molecular species they detected:

Neutral CO (carbon 12 monoxide)
Neutral CO (carbon 13 monoxide)
Neutral CS (carbon sulphide)
Neutral HCN (hydrocyanic acid)
Neutral SiO (Silicon monoxide)
and singly ionised N2H (Diazenylium)

By observation, the cloud is neutral molecular gas with minimal ionisation, very far from being a plasma.
cantdrive85
2 / 5 (4) Sep 14, 2012
Fleet, you're probably right. We should ignore the fact that this "pigtail" exhibits the distinct characteristics of electrically confined plasma, like the helical pattern, the magnetic fields, and the radio noise being emitted by the birkeland current. We should also disregard info such as that which can be found in this article, http://phys.org/n...ry.html, that discusses how neutral particles immersed within a plasma takes on the properties of plasma. We'll also need to ignore that some of these molecules are electric dipoles. Yep, I'd rather be stumped at the "mysterious" formation that needs some new physics to be discovered to properly explain it, than applying already understood (apparently, only by plasma physicists) knowledge of the behavior of electrified particles. BTW, "minimal ionization" is in fact ionization, and in this case equates to plasma, I appreciate that you could verify my POV for me.
Deathclock
5 / 5 (2) Sep 14, 2012
From absolute zero to 10 9, plasma exists in any temp range. Here is an article about 'Cold Plasma'. http://www.thunde...-plasma/


That's a nice crank wordpress website you keep linking to in multiple discussions... you are here to do nothing but push an agenda, and this is immediately apparent to anyone paying attention.
Fleetfoot
4 / 5 (4) Sep 14, 2012
Fleet, you're probably right. We should ignore the fact that this "pigtail" exhibits the distinct characteristics of electrically confined plasma, ..


No, we should take note of the fact that it doesn't exhibit the properties we would expect of such a plasma.

like the helical pattern


Typical of any rotating source (jets for example). In a plasma the helix is so tight is creates syncrotron radiation which they don't observe.

the magnetic fields


Magnetic field are often generated by currents but travel different paths. Think of a coil where the field is perpendicular to the plane of the current.

and the radio noise being emitted


I didn't see any report of such noise being observed.

Perhaps you feel happier ignoring the facts to preserve your fantasy, I do not.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2012
We should also disregard info such as that which can be found in this article, http://phys.org/n...ry.html, that discusses how neutral particles immersed within a plasma takes on the properties of plasma...


No, we should not ignore it. In fact you should read it and try to learn from it. For example:

"At least half of the negatively charged electrons are attached to the dust, and their interaction with the positively charged particles causes the ions to be decelerated. Because the dust is charged and behaves as part of the plasma cloud, this paper distinguishes this state of matter from dust that just happens to be in plasma."

In a plasma, the majority of the particles are ionised and most nuclei are in the atomic form. In this unusual situation, the dust is mostly highly ionised so behaves like a plasma. You need to learn what people mean when the use the word "plasma".
cantdrive85
1.3 / 5 (6) Sep 14, 2012
That's a nice crank wordpress website you keep linking to in multiple discussions... you are here to do nothing but push an agenda, and this is immediately apparent to anyone paying attention.


My agenda is truth, and when there are limited resources, one goes where one can. The idea that this theory applies to various discussions and many aspects of nature only reinforces the theory in my view. If something so simple as accepting that everything in the Universe is made of electrical particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons) and that these electrical interactions occur not only on a micro scale but also macro scale, and this simple viewpoint can help describe nearly all natural phenomenon from galactic formation to star creation/operation to geology to climate/weather to biology and more. It's a Plasma Universe directed by the electric force that controls the particles that make most everything that exists.
Fleetfoot
4 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2012
We'll also need to ignore that some of these molecules are electric dipoles.


You might like to but that molecules have dipoles is what allows them to be observed and the fact that they are almost entirely neutral observed, hence proving the cloud is not a plasma.

Yep, I'd rather be stumped at the "mysterious" formation that needs some new physics to be discovered to properly explain it, than applying already understood (apparently, only by plasma physicists) knowledge of the behavior of electrified particles.


No new physics is needed, just better understanding of the effects of collisions between clouds. I prefer to accept we have more to learn about the application of conventional physics than deny the evidence and believe a fantasy.

BTW, "minimal ionization" is in fact ionization, and in this case equates to plasma,


Nope, any nebula of neutral gas will be slightly ionised by starlight but that is not a plasma, you need to learn what the word means.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Sep 14, 2012
That's a nice crank wordpress website you keep linking to in multiple discussions... you are here to do nothing but push an agenda, and this is immediately apparent to anyone paying attention.


My agenda is truth, ..


Not when you ignore hard facts in favour of propaganda.
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 14, 2012
This directly from plasma physicist Anthony Peratt's website; http://plasmauniv...tml#what

All of the following are examples where plasmas are to be found:

Lightning!
The Sun—from Core to Corona
Fluorescent Lights and Neon Signs
Nebulae - Luminous Clouds in Space
The Solar Wind
Primordial Fusion during the evolution of the Universe
Magnetic Confinement Fusion Plasmas
Inertially Confined Fusion Plasmas
Flames as Plasmas*
Auroras - the Northern and Southern Lights
Interstellar Space - it's not empty, it's a plasma!
Quasars, Radiogalaxies, and Galaxies—they emit plasma radiation and microwaves
Large Scale Structures of Galaxies—their filamentary and magnetized!
Dense Solid State Matter—when shocked by nuclear explosion or earthquakes, emit both light and radio emission.

Nebulae is #4, I will trust the opinion of the man who studied under Hannes Alfven, the man largely responsible for laying the foundation of plasma physics and plasma cosmology.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Sep 15, 2012
This directly from plasma physicist Anthony Peratt's website; http://plasmauniv...tml#what

Fine, now actually read the page:

Plasma is so energetic or "hot" that in space it consists soley of ions and electrons. It is only when plasma is cooled that the atoms or molecules that are so predominant in forming gases, liquids, and solids .. is possible.

I completely agree with that definition, is is exactly what I said a couple of posts back:

In a plasma, the majority of the particles are ionised and most nuclei are in the atomic form.

Compare that with the composition of the Pigtail cloud which is composed almost entirely of neutral molecules. According to the page you cite, it is gas, not plasma. I agree.

To borrow your recent phrase, "I appreciate that you could verify my POV for me."
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 15, 2012
"Large Scale Structures of Galaxies- their FILAMENTARY AND MAGNETIZED!"

Huh, seems like just as described in the article!
cantdrive85
2 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2012
This is also from Mr. Peratt website; http://plasmauniv...lds.html

"Even weakly ionized plasma reacts strongly to electromagnetic fields since the ratio of the electromagnetic force to the gravitational force is 39 orders of magnitude. For example, although the solar photospheric plasma has a degree of ionization as low as 10$^{-4}$, the major part of the condensable components is still largely ionized. The ``neutral" hydrogen (HI) regions around galaxies are also plasmas, although the degree of ionization is only 10$^{-4}$. Most of our knowledge about electromagnetic waves in plasmas derives from laboratory plasma experiments where the gases used have a low degree of ionization, 10$^{-2}$-10$^{-6}"

As he states, "The ``neutral" hydrogen (HI) regions around galaxies are also plasmas,"

I think we'll leave it at that.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2012
This is also from Mr. Peratt website; http://plasmauniv...lds.html

As he states, "The ``neutral" hydrogen (HI) regions around galaxies are also plasmas,"


Indeed, but that contradicts the definition he gave at the beginning. The site starts with reasonable statements but then drifts off into pseudo-science by taking the examples too far.

Also from that page:
"Except in very limited circumstances, all cosmical plasmas carry electric currents that constitute the sources of the magnetic field."

Bear in mind that plasma is just like an electrical resistor. In dense plasmas like fluorescent tubes a few feet long, that resitance is very low, but in nebulae light years long, it is very high. To get current to flow, you either need potential difference across the nebula or it can be induced by the magnetic field. The statement above omits the cause of the current, it's chicken and egg.

I think we'll leave it at that.


Good idea, you have some studying to do.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2012
As I said, I'll trust the opinion of Los Alamos Lab plasma physicist who studied directly under the father of modern plasma theory. If you read what he wrote more clearly, he did not say anywhere that if a plasma cools it MUST alter it's state, it can if it cools change states.

"To get current to flow, you either need potential difference across the nebula or it can be induced by the magnetic field."

As shown in the diagrams above, there are areas of different potential within the plasma and, as has been shown in lab experiments, it is this difference between these regions within the plasma which can induce a current.

"Regardless of scale, the motion of charged particles produces a self-magnetic field that can act on other collections of particles or plasmas, internally or externally. Plasmas in relative motion are coupled via currents that they drive through each other. Currents are therefore expected in a universe of inhomogeneous astrophysical plasmas of all sizes." Peratt
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2012
You also mentioned earlier; "Typical of any rotating source (jets for example). In a plasma the helix is so tight is creates syncrotron radiation which they don't observe."

"In 1984 Farhad Yusef-Azdeh, Don Chance, and Mark Morris found an example of Birkeland currents on a galactic scale. Working with the Very Large Array radio telescope, they discovered an arc of radio emission some 120 light-years long near the center of the Milky Way. The structure is made up of narrow filaments typically 3 light-years wide and running the full length of the arc (see the image above). The strength of the associated magnetic field is 100 times greater than previously thought possible on such a large scale, but the field is nearly identical in geometry and strength with computer simulations of Birkeland currents in studies of galaxy formation." Peratt

I

cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2012
and even more...
A plasma scientist and a radio astronomer announced the discovery of charged particle flows in interstellar space at the 1999 International Conference on Plasma Science in Monterey, California. The discovery culminated decades of speculation and debate whether or not electricity existed on the scale of hundreds of thousands of light years in the interstellar space between the stars.
According to Anthony Peratt, Scientific Advisor to the United States Department of Energy and a plasma researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the discovery was made by computer analyzing large amounts of data gathered by radio telescopes from regions in space known to be occupied by 'neutral clouds of hydrogen.' The data was processed and the results obtained by radio astronomer Gerrit Verschuur, Physics Department, University of Memphis. Verschuur found that the 'neutral hydrogen clouds' were not completely a neutral gas of hydrogen and other elements, (con't)
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2012
(con't)
but rather consisted of charged particles of electrons and ions, called 'plasma.'

The name plasma as applied to charged particles was borrowed from blood-plasma by Nobel laureate Irving Langmuir in 1923 because the particles interacted collectively in a lifelike manner in his laboratory experiments. "Verschuur analyzed nearly two thousand clouds, principally from the Aericibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, but also from other radio telescopes scattered around the globe," said Peratt. Verschuur had previously found, under high resolution computer processing, that the 'clouds' were not clouds at all but were instead filaments of material which twisted and wound like helices over enormous distances between the stars.

Peratt said that the filaments between the stars are not visible themselves but are observable with radio telescopes that can observe space at much longer wavelengths than are visible to the human eye.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2012
Poor EU & PU believers, their idea would fail yet another test, observed galactic magnetic field are instead weak and locally confined, if it was a proper theory in the first place.

Except that, of course, people like cantdrive85 show that it is really a belief and that science facts for, or as here against, has nothing to do with their ideas. It is all about pattern search among observations and texts, amounting to "fact mining" and quote mining. It has been seen ever since pseudoscience and quasi-science became popular, trying to borrow credence of science for religious belief.

Fortunately only cranks and crackpots believes it is not easily revealed by others including the poor laymen that has to weather their attempts to replace science with anti-science.

For this purpose I can make a variation of my usual and by now well tested observation:

EU/PU believers shouldn't comment on science. It is hilarious to see.