Scientists explained that the “fracture” is a group of young stars and star-forming gas clouds emerging from the spiral arms of the Milky Way, according to RT.
The results, which are described in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, shed more light on the precise structure of our home galaxy.
Astronomers broadly classify galaxies into three main categories: elliptical, spiral and irregular, with more than two-thirds of the observed galaxies being spiral-shaped, including our home, the Milky Way.
While scientists have a rough idea of the size and shape of the spiral arms of the Milky Way, they say viewing the entire structure of our home galaxy is a challenge given that the Earth is inside.
“It’s akin to standing in the middle of Times Square and trying to map the island of Manhattan,” scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California explained in a statement.
In the new study, astronomers observed a close part of the “Sagittarius Arm” in the galaxy, and discovered a previously unknown feature with a direction “completely different from the arm”.
While it was previously thought that young stars closely aligned with the shape of the arms inhabiting them, the researchers found four star-forming gaseous clouds, or nebulae, emerging from the archer’s arm “like a sliver coming out of a plank of wood”.
According to the researchers, the nebulae, the Eagle Nebula, the Omega Nebula, the Messier 20 Nebula, the Lagoon Nebula, and some young stars in this arm were spanning 3,000 years for the light to travel.
To make this discovery, astronomers used NASA’s now retired Spitzer Space Telescope to search for newborn stars, nestled in nebulae, since the telescope can detect infrared radiation that can penetrate galactic gases and dust clouds.
Combining the new findings with the latest data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission, the researchers found that the long, slender structure associated with the Sagittarius arm is made up of young stars moving about the same speed and in the same direction through space.
“The main property of the spiral arms is how tightly they wrap around the galaxy,” Michael Kuhn, lead author of the study from the California Institute of Technology, noted in a statement, adding that this property is measured by the angle of the arm.
He explained that instead of sticking firmly to the spiral arm of the bowser of the galaxy with an angle of inclination of about 12 degrees in most models of the Milky Way, the structure observed in the current research protrudes at a noticeable angle of about 60 degrees.
“When we put the Gaia and Spitzer data together and finally see this detailed 3D map, we can see that there is a great deal of complexity in this region that wasn’t evident before,” Dr. Kuhn said.
While it is not clear what causes spiral arms to form in galaxies such as the Milky Way, scientists speculate that stars in this part of the Archer arm likely formed around the same time, in the same general region, and are uniquely affected by the forces . It works inside the galaxy like gravity and shear due to the rotation of the galaxy.
“Ultimately, this is a reminder that there are many uncertainties about the large-scale structure of the Milky Way, and we need to look at the details if we are to understand the bigger picture,” Robert Benjamin, a study co-author from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, said in the statement. “.
Dr Benjamin added: “This structure is a small part of the Milky Way, but it can tell us something important about the galaxy as a whole.”
“Proud explorer. Freelance social media expert. Problem solver. Gamer. Extreme travel aficionado.”