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They discover a spherical void 500 light years in diameter in space: reveals clues about the formation and death of stars

In our galaxy, between the clouds of gas and dust Taurus and Perseus, there are an immense sphere-shaped void with a diameter of 500 light years. Such a space was not generated randomly, but there is a reason behind it. New research has made it possible to better study its composition and shape, with enough precision to be able to hypothesize its origin.


The empty sphere It is known as Per-Tau, precisely because it was between the gas clouds of Perseus and Taurus. The two gas clouds from Earth appear side by side and are relatively easy to observe and study. For years astronomers have studied them because they are “close” to us. Specifically about 1000 and 400 light years respectively.

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The clouds of Perseus and Taurus respectively.

The problem is that from Earth we do not have the best of prospects. From where we are, it seems that they are together, however it is an optical illusion. There really is a huge distance between them and only with a 3D view we can see that it is more than 500 light years away between both. Researchers have even created an interactive 3D map to explore.

How do we know then? Thanks to new observations from Gaia, the European Space Agency spacecraft that has been rapping the Milky Way since 2013. Your observations are allowing create the most detailed map ever made of our galaxy and consequently the area between Perseus and Taurus.

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3D recreation of the clouds of Perseus (red) and Taurus (blue), as well as the empty sphere (green) between them.

A team of researchers has analyzed the data collected by Gaia in this area. The result is a map with an uncertainty of just 1%, a significant advance compared to the 30% uncertainty before Gaia. This 3D map has made it possible to accurately recreate the area, showing that there is a kind of huge sphere of void between these clouds of gas and dust.

We saw the explosion of this supernova from 2016 to 2019, and we will see the same explosion again in 2037

A place devastated by a gigantic supernova

The most likely explanation has to do with the stars. The death of the stars specifically. Researchers believe that in the past a gigantic supernova exploded in the middle of that vacuum, or several of them at the same time. These explosions, as we have already seen, can be huge. The explosion caused all possible materials to be expelled from the area, leaving the place “empty”. Hence around the sphere it is full of dust and gas. Over time, that dust and gas cooled, giving rise to clouds like Pereso and Taurus.

These clouds are now the ones that give rise to new stars in the great life cycle of stars. Researchers are now going to follow analyzing the data obtained by Gaia and what it will obtain in the future, in search of more clues about the remains of that explosion and the current composition of the clouds to understand the origin of new stars. Per-Tau’s empty sphere can also serve as a model to find others in the galaxy and study them more easily.

Via | ScienceAlert
More information | The Astrophysical Journal Letters