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Astronomers Discover Enormous Cavity in the Milky Way

Astronomers identified a giant cavity in space where for about 500 light-years the interstellar medium becomes almost invisibly thin. This cavity has been caused by supernova explosions around 6-22 million light-years ago. The first use of augmented reality in a peer-reviewed Astronomers paper allows anyone to use these observations to visualize the way stars rise phoenix-like from the ashes of their predecessors.

The Perseus and Taurus molecular clouds are two enormous regions filled with gas. Although bright in the infrared they are extremely faint at visible wavelengths and so have only been subject to intense study since space telescopes arrived. The Taurus molecular cloud is possibly the nearest large star formation region to Earth, at around 430 light-years away. Both form part of the recently discovered Radcliffe Wave, the nearest gaseous structure to the Sun’s location within the Milky Way.

Astronomers report that they found an empty area between the clouds. This is similar to a vacuum to the clouds that are so diffuse and they look like a vacuum to a visitor. Dr Shmuel Bialy of the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said that many stars are formed or exist at the surface of this giant bubble. They are considered as separate clouds, Bialy and co-authors believe the Perseus and Taurus molecular clouds both are the product of the same supernova.

The project marks the most detailed 3D mapping of galactic dust. This in turn has been used to produce the first 3D reconstruction of how gas forms stars after supernova explosions based on observations, rather than simulations. The work was published with augmented reality visualizations, which anyone can see and interact with using this link here to scan a QR code, also available in an accompanying paper.

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