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Study reveals importance of hydrogen atoms for star formation

Study reveals importance of hydrogen atoms for star formation

Science
Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Until recently, astronomers assumed hydrogen molecules fueled star formation in young galaxies. But new research suggests atomic hydrogen may be equally important to star formation.In the local universe, most hydrogen found inside galaxies exists as individual atoms. Scientists assumed younger galaxies would host less atomic hydrogen and more molecular hydrogen. But cosmic surveys suggest even the earliest galaxies were rich in atomic hydrogen.Now, new analysis by researchers at the University of Western Australia and the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research confirms even galaxies featuring intense rates of star formation host large amounts of atomic hydrogen.Previous studies of "cosmic noon" galaxies have revealed massive reservoirs of molecular hydrogen. Cos...