Trajectory of Smith Cloud

Trajectory of Smith Cloud

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Fast Facts
News release ID: STScI-2016-04
Release Date: Jan 28, 2016
Image Use: Copyright
About this image

This diagram shows the 100-million-year-long trajectory of the Smith Cloud as it arcs out of the plane of our Milky Way galaxy and then returns like a boomerang. Hubble Space Telescope measurements show that the cloud, because of its chemical composition, came out of a region near the edge of the galaxy's disk of stars 70 million years ago. The cloud is now stretched into the shape of a comet by gravity and gas pressure. Following a ballistic path, the cloud will fall back into the disk and trigger new star formation 30 million years from now.

Active Galaxies/Quasars, Cosmology, Galaxies, Hubble Telescope, Illustrations, Intergalactic Gas, Milky Way


Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI);
Science Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Fox (STScI)