New features may make southern sky’s Coalsack ideal for further study
Stargazers call a prominent dark black region in the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky the Coalsack. Even for naked-eye observers, the cloud of cold gas that makes up the Coalsack is hard to miss: It covers a part of the misty luminescence of the Milky Way, blocking out distant stars of our galaxy with the deep black shades that have earned the Coalsack its name.
A newly discovered aspect of the Coalsack may soon have astronomers thinking of it more like a treasure chest. At an American Astronomical Society Meeting in Nashville this week, astronomers will reveal evidence that the Coalsack has hot gases on its perimeter, a finding that means the Coalsack will likely provide many outstanding opportunities to learn more about interactions between regions of hot and cold gas, processes that are essential to star formation and distribution of the elements that make up life forms and the planets. Findings from the Coalsack may also help scientists refine their models of energy production in the galaxy.
Michael Purdy | EurekAlert!
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