Recently, a radio signal originating from atomic hydrogen in an extremely distant galaxy was detected by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT).



Astronomers from McGill University in Canada and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru have used data from the telescope to detect atomic hydrogen.


About the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope

  • It is a low-frequency radio telescope that helps investigate various radio astrophysical problems ranging from nearby solar systems to the edge of the observable universe.
  • It is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.


What is Atomic Hydrogen?

  • Atomic hydrogen is the basic fuel required for star formation in a galaxy.
  • When hot ionised gas from the surrounding medium of a galaxy falls onto the universe, the gas cools and forms atomic hydrogen.
  • This atomic hydrogen then becomes molecular hydrogen and eventually leads to the formation of stars.
  • Atomic hydrogen emits radio waves of 21 cm wavelength, which helps in the direct tracing of the atomic gas content in nearby and distant galaxies.