Astronomy Shock: Giant Structure Is Discovered In Milky Way

Astronomy Shock: Giant Structure Is Discovered In Milky Way”

In 1879, astronomer Benjamin Gould identified what looked to be a ring in the sky, measuring about 3,000 light-years across, made of dust and gas and young stars - interconnected stellar nurseries.

The sun may have originated from what scientists have called "the Radcliffe wave", after their home base, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

The undulating pattern of stellar gas masses around Orion was noticed when Alves and his colleagues were creating a 3D map of the Milky Way with data harvested by ESA's Gaia satellite and, in particular, looking at an object known as the Gould Belt, which was first detected more than 100 years ago.

"It's been right in front of our eyes all the time, but we couldn't see it until now", he said. No one expected "we live next to a giant, wave-like collection of gas - or that it forms the local arm of the Milky Way", Harvard's Alyssa Goodman said in a statement. "The sun lies only 500 light-years from the wave at its closest point".

What they do know is that it does, on occasion, (harmlessly) interact with the Sun.

"We don't know what causes this shape but it could be like a ripple in a pond, as if something extraordinarily massive landed in our galaxy", Alves said.

Zucker, mapping the 3-D positions of the nearby star kindergartens, said: "We finally managed to see our corner of the Milky Way in a new light and to reveal this very big wave in front of us".

Another research finding at the American Astronomical Society meeting on Tuesday revealed that a cluster of new stars have been formed in the outskirts of the Milky Way, as reported by

"We suspected there might be larger structures that we just couldn't put in context".

"It has completely transformed our understanding of our galactic 'neighborhood, '" Zucker said in an email.

Zucker played a key role in compiling the largest-ever catalog of accurate distances to local stellar nurseries - the basis for the 3D map used in the study.

The discovery suggested that a stream of gas extending from the galaxies is about half as far from crashing into the Milky Way as previously thought.

And because it seems, we truly work together with this wave.

To map the position of the clouds, the scientists relied on the fact that, just like the sun blushes at sunset, the light of the stars blushes as it passes through interstellar dust.

The Gaia spacecraft, launched in 2013, measured the distances of nearly 1 billion stars in our galaxy and, according to scientists, offers a valuable, colossal database for uncovering huge structures such as the Radcliffe wave.

The flood of data from Gaia served as the flawless testbed for innovative, new statistical methods that reveal the shape of local stellar nurseries and their connection to the Milky Way's galactic structure.

The spectacular chain of stellar cribs is the largest known wave in the Milky Way and was rightly announced at a scientific conference a stone's throw from the surfing Mecca of Waikiki Beach in Hawaii.

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