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Institute of Astronomy
The University of Tokyo

January 30, 2023

First in the world! AI-generated map of the molecular gas cloud distribution in the Milky Way galaxy

Osaka Metropolitan University
Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo
National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS)
Fukui University of Technology
Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN)
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ)

A research group led by Shinji Fujita, a Research Fellow at the Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, has identified approximately 140,000 interstellar molecular clouds from detailed observations of the Milky Way galaxy using the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan's Nobeyama 45m radio telescope. Using artificial intelligence, they estimated the distance of each of the clouds, calculated the size and mass of interstellar molecular clouds in the Milky Way galaxy, and successfully drew the most detailed distribution of interstellar molecular clouds in the Milky Way galaxy's disk. This research is expected to have an impact on various astronomical studies, such as the calculation of the frequency of "collisions between interstellar molecular clouds," which are considered important events in creating large stars and star clusters.

The research results were published online on January 27, 2023 in "Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan”.

Figure: The upper panel shows the distribution of molecular clouds in the Milky Way galaxy obtained by the Nobeyama 45m radio telescope (a three-color
composite image with red for 12CO, green for 13CO, and blue for C18O). The lower panel is an infrared observation by the Spitzer Space Telescope.

For more information, please visit the Osaka Metropolitan University website .