A giant and mysterious ‘cavity’ has been found in space leaving scientists baffled.
The spherical cavity was found by astronomers among the constellations named Perseus and Taurus and is nearly 500 lightyears long.
According to the Independent, the cavity is also surrounded by molecular clouds – areas where stars form.
However, scientists still do not know how or why the void ended up forming in space.
Postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) at the Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Shmuel Bialy, who led the study, told The Independent how they discovered that at the surface of the ‘giant bubble’, ‘hundreds of stars are forming or exist already’.
We have two theories—either one supernova went off at the core of this bubble and pushed gas outward forming what we now call the ‘Perseus-Taurus Supershell,’ or a series of supernovae occurring over millions of years created it over time.
The clouds look as if they have been created after a supernova explosion, resulting from the same shockwave, according to The Independent.
Astronomers Have Discovered a Giant, Empty Cavity Lurking in Space https://t.co/vsUTWreCfk
— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) September 22, 2021
The cavity was found by researchers when they were studying the sizes and shapes of molecular clouds nearby using 3D maps. The European Space Agency launched Gaia, an observatory located in space, which made the maps, which had already been a major breakthrough for astronomers.
Previously, maps had only been able to show scientists images in 2D, so the new 3D maps were the first time they had been able to see molecular clouds not just in a flat format.
A postdoctoral researcher at the CfA, called Catherine Zucker, helped lead the study which led to the creation of the maps. She noted how while they have been able to ‘see these clouds for decades’ they have never been able to understand their ‘true shape, depth or thickness’.
Scientists find huge, mysterious ‘cavity’ in space
The vast void is shaped like a sphere, stretches almost 500 light-years across & is found in space among the constellations #Perseus & #Taurus#Breaking https://t.co/mXszu1nuVJ pic.twitter.com/LkDVXdjo9D
— Sarwar (@ferozwala) September 22, 2021
Due to the creation of the 3D maps, Zucker said they can now know ‘where they lie with only 1% uncertainty’, which means they can work out the void ‘between them’.
‘There are many different theories for how gas rearranges itself to form stars’, she added. However, the 3D maps have meant they can use real, rather than ‘stimulated’ views to ‘compare theory to observation’ and then see which theories actually ‘work best’.
The findings of the research can be found in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, titled ‘The Per-Tau Shell: A Giant Star-forming Spherical Shell Revealed by 3D Dust Observations’.