Jan 12, 2023

Cosmic superbubble’s magnetic field charted in 3D for the first time

Posted by in categories: cosmology, evolution

Astronomers at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) have unveiled a first-of-its-kind map that could help answer decades-old questions about the origins of stars and the influences of magnetic fields in the cosmos.

The map reveals the likely structure of the Local Bubble—a giant, 1,000-light-year-wide hollow in space surrounding our Sun. Like a hunk of Swiss cheese, our galaxy is full of these so-called superbubbles. The explosive supernova deaths of massive stars blow up these bubbles, and in the process, concentrate gas and dust—the fuel for making —on the bubbles’ outer surfaces. These thick surfaces accordingly serve as rich sites for subsequent star and planet formation.

Scientists’ overall understanding of superbubbles, however, remains incomplete. With the new 3D magnetic field map, researchers now have novel information that could better explain the evolution of superbubbles, their effects on star formation and on galaxies writ large.

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