Interstellar medium

Interstellar medium is the space between the stars. The interstellar medium is composed of gas (predominantly hydrogen and helium) and dust. Such interstellar matter makes up approximately 15% of the visible matter in our galaxy.

Featured

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research |

    Observations that molecular gas in NGC 300 is spatially uncorrelated with high-mass stars are attributed to rapid evolution, with molecular clouds quickly destroyed by stellar feedback, and low star-formation efficiency.

    • J. M. Diederik Kruijssen
    • , Andreas Schruba
    • , Mélanie Chevance
    • , Steven N. Longmore
    • , Alexander P. S. Hygate
    • , Daniel T. Haydon
    • , Anna F. McLeod
    • , Julianne J. Dalcanton
    • , Linda J. Tacconi
    •  & Ewine F. van Dishoeck
    Nature 569, 519-522
  • Research |

    A predominance of small grains (tens of nanometres in size) over larger grains and the corresponding near- to mid-infrared excess radiation from H ii regions around massive stars and supernovae has been difficult to explain. Hoang et al. propose a radiative torque disruption method for large dust grains that fits with the observational constraints.

    • Thiem Hoang
    • , Le Ngoc Tram
    • , Hyeseung Lee
    •  & Sang-Hyeon Ahn
  • Research |

    Studies of the planetary nebula NGC 7027, using an upgraded spectrometer onboard a high-altitude observatory, have identified the rotational ground-state transition of the helium hydride ion—the first molecule to form after the Big Bang and an essential precursor to molecular hydrogen.

    • Rolf Güsten
    • , Helmut Wiesemeyer
    • , David Neufeld
    • , Karl M. Menten
    • , Urs U. Graf
    • , Karl Jacobs
    • , Bernd Klein
    • , Oliver Ricken
    • , Christophe Risacher
    •  & Jürgen Stutzki
    Nature 568, 357-359
  • Research |

    Ultracompact stellar clusters in the Galactic Centre are likely to be major contributors to the Galactic cosmic ray flux in the multi-TeV energy range. Observations of the diffuse gamma-ray emission from the Galactic Centre and two young massive star clusters correlate with the cosmic-ray distribution.

    • Felix Aharonian
    • , Ruizhi Yang
    •  & Emma de Oña Wilhelmi
  • Research |

    Huge X-ray structures, termed Galactic Centre ‘chimneys’, extending hundreds of parsecs above and below the Galactic plane, appear to be exhaust channels connecting the Galactic Centre region to the Fermi bubbles.

    • G. Ponti
    • , F. Hofmann
    • , E. Churazov
    • , M. R. Morris
    • , F. Haberl
    • , K. Nandra
    • , R. Terrier
    • , M. Clavel
    •  & A. Goldwurm
    Nature 567, 347-350
  • Research |

    High-angular-resolution observations of 1.3 mm continuum and H30α recombination line emission identify a binary star system in formation, with protostars apparently separated by 180 au. The velocity difference between the two protostars constrains the orbital period and total mass of the system.

    • Yichen Zhang
    • , Jonathan C. Tan
    • , Kei E. I. Tanaka
    • , James M. De Buizer
    • , Mengyao Liu
    • , Maria T. Beltrán
    • , Kaitlin Kratter
    • , Diego Mardones
    •  & Guido Garay

News and Comment

  • Comments and Opinion |

    A pioneer of millimetre-wave astronomy, Norio Kaifu was an incomparable leader, person of spirit, colleague and friend.

    • Masahiko Hayashi
  • News and Views |

    After 30 years of searching, the helium hydride ion, the first chemical bond that was formed in the Universe, has finally been detected outside the laboratory, in the interstellar medium. It was seen in planetary nebula NGC 7027 using the GREAT spectrometer aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.

    • Stephen Lepp
    Nature Astronomy 3, 382-383
  • News and Views |

    In 1951, three separate research groups established radio astronomy as a contender to the dominance of optical astronomy. Using the interstellar 21-cm line, they provided a method to look deeper into our own Galaxy and back in time to the birth of all galaxies.

    • Emma Chapman
    Nature Astronomy 3, 298-299
  • Comments and Opinion |

    The Origins Space Telescope, one of four large Mission Concept Studies sponsored by NASA for review in the 2020 US Astrophysics Decadal Survey, will open unprecedented discovery space in the infrared, unveiling our cosmic origins.

    • Cara Battersby
    • , Lee Armus
    • , Edwin Bergin
    • , Tiffany Kataria
    • , Margaret Meixner
    • , Alexandra Pope
    • , Kevin B. Stevenson
    • , Asantha Cooray
    • , David Leisawitz
    • , Douglas Scott
    • , James Bauer
    • , C. Matt Bradford
    • , Kimberly Ennico
    • , Jonathan J. Fortney
    • , Lisa Kaltenegger
    • , Gary J. Melnick
    • , Stefanie N. Milam
    • , Desika Narayanan
    • , Deborah Padgett
    • , Klaus Pontoppidan
    • , Thomas Roellig
    • , Karin Sandstrom
    • , Kate Y. L. Su
    • , Joaquin Vieira
    • , Edward Wright
    • , Jonas Zmuidzinas
    • , Johannes Staguhn
    • , Kartik Sheth
    • , Dominic Benford
    • , Eric E. Mamajek
    • , Susan G. Neff
    • , Sean Carey
    • , Denis Burgarella
    • , Elvire De Beck
    • , Maryvonne Gerin
    • , Frank P. Helmich
    • , S. Harvey Moseley
    • , Itsuki Sakon
    •  & Martina C. Wiedner
    Nature Astronomy 2, 596-599
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Innovative and versatile, William Klemperer devised both unorthodox experimental tools that enhanced molecular spectroscopy and a theoretical model that elucidated the paradoxical chemistry of cold interstellar clouds.

    • Dudley Herschbach
    Nature Astronomy 2, 24-25