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Cold gas pipelines feeding early, massive galaxies

Massive galaxies found in the early universe needed a lot of cold gas -- a store totaling as much as 100 billion times the mass of our sun.

But where did these early, super-sized galaxies get that much cold gas when they were hemmed in by hotter surroundings?

In a new study, astronomers led by the University of Iowa report direct, observational evidence of streams of cold gas they believe provisioned these early, massive galaxies. They detected cold gas pipelines that knifed through the hot atmosphere in the dark matter halo of an early massive galaxy, supplying the materials for the galaxy to form stars.

About two decades ago, physicists working with simulations theorized that during the early universe, cosmic filaments ferried cold gas and embryonic, node-shaped galaxies to a dark matter halo, where it all clumped together to form massive galaxies. The theory assumed the filaments would need to be narrow and densely filled with cold gas to avoid being peeled off by the hotter surrounding atmosphere.

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