Molecular gas and dust coalesce in space to form stars. Although these molecular vapors are too dilute and cold to be seen with the naked eye, they emit faint radio waves that radio telescopes can detect.

Viewed from Earth, there is a lot of material in front of and behind these molecular clouds, and these overlapping features make it challenging to estimate their distance as well as their size and mass. Thus, it was a great challenge to investigate the physical characteristics of molecular clouds through large-scale observations, despite the fact that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is the only galaxy in the entire universe close enough to allow detailed observations of molecular clouds. to make. clouds.

A research team led by Dr. Shinji Fujita of the Graduate School of Science at Osaka Metropolitan University was able to identify more than 140,000 molecular clouds or star-forming regions in the Milky Way galaxy using extensive data from carbon monoxide molecules closely examined by the Nobeleyama 45-m radio telescope. The research team mapped the distribution of these molecular clouds, covering the first quadrant of the galactic plane, in the most accurate way possible, using artificial intelligence to assess the distance, size and mass of each of these molecular clouds.

Doctor Fujita said: “The results will not only provide a bird’s eye view of the Milky Way, but will also aid in several star formation studies. In the future, we want to expand the scope of observations with the Nobeyama 45-m radio telescope and include radio telescope observation data from the southern hemisphere sky, which cannot be observed from Japan, for a complete distribution map of the entire Milky Way.”

Magazine reference:

  1. Shinji Fujita et al. Distance determination of molecular clouds in the first quadrant of the Galactic plane using deep learning: I. Method and results. Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan. DOI: 10.1093/pash/psac104