Violent explosion tears giant gaping hole in space and spawns new stars

Violent explosion tears giant gaping hole in space and spawns new stars
Violent explosion tears giant gaping hole in space and spawns new stars

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

ESO / SpaceEngine / L. Way

There is a huge hole in the universe. A long time ago, a star exploded with great force and destroyed everything in its path. It even swept away tiny particles of space dust – but in a sudden turn of events, that space dust accumulated, collapsed, and eventually spawned a cluster of tiny stars.

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

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

The story begins with a spherical void that is millions of years old and 500 light years wide lurking in space. To be clear, this completely empty cavity is quite massive. A Light Year About 6,000 billion miles (9,000 billion kilometers), which means that the void could contain 150,000 copies of our solar system inside.

Mysterious and seemingly surprising cavities like this are sometimes discovered in the universe. It’s just a gaping hole in empty space. But since astronomers typically study two-dimensional space – with spectral data or even photographs – it can be difficult to find three-dimensional structures. Even when astronomers locate them, it can be difficult to figure out what’s going on.

“There’s a lot of confusion along the line of sight,” Bialy said. “You don’t know the distance, so sometimes we see different structures and it looks like it’s just one structure – or the other way around.”

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

They recreated a miniature version of the giant portable cavity in space, along with the objects around it. Then they played with their model in real time to unlock the secrets of the elusive void. a QR Code to the masterpiece being included in their paper, published Wednesday in Astrophysical Journal Letters. There is also Demo on YouTube.

Basically you can download the reconstructed space to your phone and feel like you’re in your bedroom. “It’s like movies where you have a 3D image,” Bialy said.

By scanning their digital sculptures for research, unlike the trivial pleasure I had from rotating the display on the 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 several star bursts over the period of time – pushed the particles nearby, causing a capsule to encircle. of space dust in an uninhabited region of space.

“Imagine… you have a lot of dust on the ground,” Bialy explained. “You have a big room and you’re just sweeping a little dust in one area – now in that area… you have a much higher dust density.”

When space dust clumps together, it collapses and compresses more easily. But perhaps the most surprising discovery is that two famous clouds, Perseus and Taurus, which show stars as small as a stellar plant, live in this crust of dust.

“It was traditionally thought that they were just two independent clouds,” Biali said. “Now with this 3D view and the discovery of this cavity, we understand that they were most likely formed together by a supernova explosion that preceded them.”

This means that stellar explosions can set off a chain reaction that ultimately leads to the formation of their descendants.

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

A magnified image of the cavity (left) shows the molecular clouds of Perseus and Taurus in blue and red, respectively.

Alyssa Goodman / Center for Astrophysics | Harvard and Smithsonian.

The entire Bialy project initially began as a test of Perseus’ single molecular cloud. The researchers were trying to understand the formation of stars and gaps in the small region of two-dimensional space. Looking at the photos, they started to notice little “shells” inside Perseus.

So they started to get smaller… and then again… and again.

“We have widened the map,” Biali explained. “We started to see seashells getting bigger and bigger until, finally, this massive seashell.”

In addition to encouraging audiences to see the magic for themselves, by scanning a QR code and exploring the model, Bialy says, the team also made their fully digital data public. This ensures transparency so that anyone can try to draw the same conclusions as the team, but from scratch, if they wish.

Along with the fascinating findings on how stars and star clouds are produced, Bialy says the use of new perspectives and methodologies in astrophysics can pave the way for the subject’s future.

“I was just doing science,” Bialy said. “So I work with this augmented reality company and a host and different people.”

Augmented reality, in particular, promises a richer library of scientific literature. Instead of a thick collection of encyclopedias, we’re turning to digital holograms that can be viewed at will.

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