The Giant Alcohol Cloud

Alcohol cloud? You shouldn’t be surprised. Alcohol is a simple molecule formed from sufficiently abundant elements like hydrogen, carbon and oxygen.

It is well known that the space is full of molecular clouds and dust full of all kinds of chemical compounds, but the reaction between them can easily produce alcohol. Unfortunately, for us it is methyl alcohol, therefore, can’t be used for consumption.

Methanol is used in antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. This particular cloud of alcohol contains a cocktail of 32 components od some nasty chemicals as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and ammonia.

Discovered in 1995, by Drs Tom Miller, Geoffrey MacDonald, and Rolf Hagins, near the Aquila constellation the giant alcohol cloud is 1000 times bigger than our solar system diameter. The gas cloud is 58 quadrillion miles away from earth, about 6500 light years.

The giant cloud covers the stellar nursery. The team of astronomers that discovered it was studying the space area, the W3(OH), a part of our galaxy where the stars are formed by the gravitational collapse of the gas and dust.

What the astronomers found was that the molecules in the gas are amplifying and emitting beams of microwave radiation in the same ways as a laser emits beams of lights. These are called giant filaments of gas. The maser filaments occur at shock boundaries while a vast region of gas is colliding.

These filaments of masing gas, form bridges between some of the maser molecules in this part of the space. The largest maser filament is almost 300 billion miles away. The observation of the gas cloud showed that the cloud is rotating around a central star as a disc.

Astronomers believe that this particular cloud will give them a glimpse of how a star is created. They measured the temperature, pressure, strength and direction of the magnetic fields. These are the most valuable information needed in studying hypothesis related with the birth of the stars from  gas in the “ stellar nursery.”

The temperature of the cloud very from 27C to -233C, as a result of the low temperature and pressure in the cloud, the interaction of atoms is extremely slow.

While the chemical reactions are slow in the freezing conditions, something called,” quantum tunneling” could explain it.

Scientists found that the rate which the alcohol reaction occurs is 50 times greater at minus 210c than at the room temperature.

To test this theory, scientists took an icy mixture of alcohol and blasted it with radiation to mimic the radiations from the nearby stars. The results suggested that the methanol gas was involved in the production of methoxy radicals found in the alcohol cloud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *