Startling Milky Way mapping discovery reveals ENORMOUS gas structure in our galaxy

Radcliffe Wave star-forming gas structure has been hiding in the Milky way

The “Radcliffe Wave,” has been superimposed on an artist’s rendering of Milky Way galaxy. Image credit AP

Alves and an global team of colleagues detected the Radcliffe Wave (named for Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, where the bulk of the research was conducted) while creating a 3D map of the Milky Way with data gathered largely by the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite.

In addition, the structure, named after a Harvard institute Radcliffe Wave, contains star nurseries that were thought to belong to an annular band around the sun.

From many years, astronomers have been trying to figure out if bright stars forming an arc in the sky actually form a ring in 3D.

"It could be like a ripple in a pond, as if something extraordinarily massive landed in our galaxy", Alves said.

According to Catherine Zucker from Harvard, all of these star nurseries or star-forming gas balls are interconnected.

What they do know is that it does, on occasion, (harmlessly) interact with the Sun. "We think the wave is dynamic but the length of its up and down movement, we really don't know", said Goodman. "It passed by a festival of supernovae as it crossed Orion 13m years ago, and in another 13m years it will cross the structure again, sort of like we are "surfing the wave".

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 Phys.org. The work which was led by the researcher Zucker has been published in the Astrophysical Journal."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.

What is the Milky Way Galaxy? "We pulled this team together so we could go beyond processing and tabulating the data to actively visualizing it - not just for ourselves but for everyone". Perhaps a enormous blob of dark matter crashed into the young gas cloud millions of years ago, warping the galaxy's gravity and scattering the nearest stars into the pattern seen today, one 2009 study in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society posited.

"Studying stellar births is complicated by imperfect data. But determining how much mass the clouds have, how large they are - has been hard, because these properties depend on how far away the cloud is". Since its launch in 2013, the space observatory has enabled measurements of the distances to one billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The discovery appears to have always been on the surface, but it is only now that the "stellar nurseries" have been revealed. In this data-science-oriented collaboration, the Finkbeiner, Alves, and Goodman groups collaborated closely.

"This is a puny cluster of stars-less than a few thousand in total-but it has big implications beyond its local area of the Milky Way", the main discoverer, Adrian Price-Whelan, a research fellow at the Flatiron Institute's Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York City said.

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