Our solar system is located in one of the Milky Way galaxy‘s spiral arms.
It’s been just revealed that for the very first time, astronomers noted that we are pretty close to a massive gaseous structure that has the shape of a wave and connects star nurseries.
Radcliffe Wave structure
This wave is known as the “Radcliffe Wave,” and it reportedly extends in crests that are 500 light-years both above and below the middle of the Milky Way’s disk, according to reports from CNN.
The website also reveals that the large structure stretches for 9,000 light-years total, and it measures 400 light-years wide.
The discovery was revealed yesterday, on January 7th during the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu.
CNN writes that researchers from Harvard University studied data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft. Just in case you don’t know, this has been measuring stars since back in 2013.
Gaia’s data has been then used to create a 3D map of the Milky Way’s matter.
This map was the one that unveiled the wave pattern in one of the Milky Way’s spiral arms. This is the one that is closest to our solar system.
Astronomers are in shock
Astronomers revealed that the discovery comes like a complete shock.
“No astronomer expected that we live next to a giant, wave-like collection of gas — or that it forms the Local Arm of the Milky Way,” said Alyssa Goodman, the Robert Wheeler Willson Professor of applied astronomy at Harvard University.
She continued and explained that “We were completely shocked when we first realized how long and straight the Radcliffe Wave is, looking down on it from above in 3D, but how sinusoidal [defining the shape of a wave] it is when viewed from Earth. The Wave’s very existence is forcing us to rethink our understanding of the Milky Way’s 3D structure.”
We recommend that you check out the complete CNN article in order to learn more details.