Void “bubble” may explain how stars are born 700 light-years away

Although the universe is considered a “vacuum”, cosmic radiation particles seem ubiquitous, even where the density of these particles is negligible. However, astronomers have found a “bubble” of empty space in a region about 500 light-years from Earth, where there should be well-distributed clouds of gas and dust.

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  • The spherical area of ​​”void” lies between the constellations of Perseus and Taurus and measures more than 500 light years from diameter. Around it, the star-forming molecular clouds known as Perseus and Taurus spread naturally. This scenario suggests there is something in the “bubble”—something that just disappeared.

    Scientists have dubbed the area the Per-Tau Shell, and the most likely hypothesis is that a giant explosion supernova occurred there millions of years ago. This is likely to have “pushed” the Perseus and Taurus clouds, compressing them and triggering the formation of new stars from them.

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    Laretal view of the “empty” bubble and the clouds pushed and compressed around it. The yellow arrow represents the direction in which our Sun is located (Image: Reproduction/Bialy)

    In fact, there are hundreds of stars forming in both clouds, according to theoretical astrophysicist Shmuel Bialy. For him, a second hypothesis could also explain the strange spatial configuration: a series of supernovas occurred over millions of years and created the vacuum bubble.

    This discovery came after a study that revealed the three-dimensional shape of the Perseus and Taurus clouds. It’s just that astronomers, even knowing these structures for a long time, still didn’t have a good view of the depth, that is, the length of the clouds in relation to our point of view. With the help of Gaia, a space observatory that studies our galaxy, they got a 3D map of the region. , which is at least curious. Nature’s tendency is for particles to spread out to fill all spaces—unless some powerful force pushes them in a single direction. This force, according to the authors of the new study, would be the supernova explosion.

    If the responsible for the bubble was a single supernova, it is probably a stupendous explosion that created a shock wave in all directions, pushing the particles out of the clouds so that a sphere formed. As the material is pushed, the clouds are compressed, accelerating the star formation process.

    The view of the two clouds from the point of Earth’s view. Note how Taurus and Perseus, represented by the colors blue and red, respectively, are almost superimposed, so that it was difficult to calculate the distance between them and prevented from detecting the bubble (Image: Reproduction/Bialy)

    When a denser region of the cloud compresses enough to agglutinate the particles into a solid object, a star begins to form, attracting more and more gas and dust to itself through gravity. After acquiring enough mass, the object begins nuclear fusion to generate energy and radiation.

    If this hypothesis is correct, it will be the first time that astronomers have had a direct observation rather than a simulation , on how a supernova organizes surrounding material so that new stars form.

    The discovery article was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters and an interactive 3D model of the bubble is available in Harvard website. By the way, if you want to make the experience more fun, you can view the model in augmented reality through QR Code, as shown in the video below.

    Source: Science Alert, AAS Nova

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