Astronomers discover an empty cavity dug out of space as a result of a violent explosion

Astronomers discover an empty cavity dug out of space as a result of a violent explosion

A supernova explosion may have blown a hole in the universe.

ESO / SpaceEngine / L. Way

There is a huge gap in the universe. A long time ago a star exploded with great force and destroyed everything in its path. He even pushed small particles of space dust out of his way, but in a sudden turn of events, that space dust accumulated, collapsed, and eventually gave birth to a small star cluster.

As the saying goes, it is the circle of life.

said lead author Shmuel Bialy, an astrophysicist in the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The story begins with a spherical void several millions of years wide and 500 light-years wide lurking in outer space. To be clear, this completely empty cavity is pretty huge. One Light year Roughly 6 trillion miles (9 trillion km) across, which means the void could contain 150,000 copies of our solar system inside.

Sometimes mysterious and amazing cavities like this are discovered in the universe. It’s just a huge hole in empty space. But because astronomers often study space in two dimensions, using spectrum data or even photographs, it can be difficult to find 3D structures. Even when astronomers locate them, it can be hard to understand what’s going on.

“There is a lot of confusion along the line of sight,” Bialy said. “The distance is unknown, so sometimes we see different structures and it seems like it’s just one structure, or the other way around.”

The Bialy team solved the problem by harnessing a new power: augmented reality.

They recreated a miniature version of the giant cavity carried in space, as well as the objects around it. They then played with their model in real time to reveal the secrets of the elusive void. to me QR Code To include the masterpiece in its role, published Wednesday in Astrophysical Journal Letters. There is, too Demo on YouTube.

You can basically download the reconstructed space to your phone and feel right in your room. “It’s like movies where you have a three-dimensional image,” Bialy said.

While scanning his digital sculptures for research purposes, in contrast to the trivial pleasure he had while flipping the screen over a coffee table, the team saw an unusual “shell” of material around a symmetrical, deserted area: the giant cavity.

They concluded that an explosion from a star about 10 million years old, or multiple starbursts over the time period, pushed the particles into the vicinity, causing a capsule of space dust to wrap around an uninhabited region of space.

“Imagine… you have a lot of dust from the ground,” Bialy explained. “You have a large room and you are only removing dust in one area; now, in this area… you have a much higher dust density.”

When space dust accumulates, it is known to collapse and compress more easily. But perhaps the most surprising discovery is that two famous clouds, Perseus and Taurus, showing stars as small as stellate plants, live in that crust of dust.

“Traditionally, they were thought to be just two independent clouds,” Bialy said. “Now, with this 3D view and the discovery of this cavity, we understand that they most likely formed together as a result of the supernova explosion that preceded them.”

This means that stellar explosions can trigger a chain reaction that eventually leads to the formation of their descendants.

“I wouldn’t say that this is the only way to form stellar clouds, but this is a viable method,” Bialy said.

The enlarged image of the cavity (on the left) shows the Perseus and Taurus molecular clouds in blue and red, respectively.

Alyssa Goodman / Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian.

The entire Bialy project initially started as a test of the Perseus Molecular Cloud on its own. The researchers were trying to understand the formation of stars and gaps within the small region of space in two dimensions. When they looked at the photos, they began to notice small “shells” inside Perseus.

Then they started shrinking…then again…and again.

“We’ve expanded the map,” Bialy explained. “We’re starting to see bigger and bigger projectiles until finally this massive projectile.”

In addition to encouraging the public to see the magic for themselves, by scanning a QR code and exploring the model, says Bialy, the team also released their all-digital data to the public. This ensures transparency so that anyone can try to derive the same findings from the team, but from scratch, if they wish.

Besides the fascinating discoveries about how stars and star clouds are produced, Bialy claims that the use of new perspectives and methodologies in astrophysics could pave the way for the future of the subject.

“I was just doing science,” Bialy said. “Suddenly, I’m working with this augmented reality company and an animator and different people.”

Augmented reality, in particular, promises a much richer library of scientific literature. Instead of a large collection of encyclopedias, we have turned to digital holograms that can be conjured at will.

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