The model shows the gas density distribution of a young giant molecular cloud in the Milky Way. Understanding the three-dimensional distribution of gas is important for understanding how the clouds form new stars. Unfortunately, observations can only measure the two-dimensional structure of the clouds projected on the sky—modelling is needed to estimate the three-dimensional structure. Models such as this allow us to determine the gravitational potential energy of the clouds and to estimate how they evolve in the future and how much they will form new stars.
The movie was produced in cooperation with Jouni Kainulainen.