Spanish astronomers say they have completed the most accurate image yet of the Milky Way, and discovered a massive new hidden structure made up of massive blue stars spanning an area of 10,000 light-years.
Astronomers already knew that the Milky Way is made up of large spiral arms of stars, but scientists from the Center de Astrobiology (CAB) in Spain have put together the most detailed map yet of Orion, where our solar system is located. , Along with those in Perseus, on the outer edge of the Milky Way, and the arc, toward the center of our galaxy.
Through observations from the European Space Agency’s Gaia telescope, they were able to discover the previously unknown region of our galaxy, and named it “Cepheus spur”.
“The moment the stimulus was discovered was intriguing. It was not an explosive advertisement, but something inside me changed. This is what connects one and gives meaning to a lot of effort,” said Michelangelo Pantellione Gonzalez, principal investigator at CAB.
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He and his colleague Jesus Mayes Abelanez published their findings in Research paper in the Royal Astronomical Society.
They say it is a bridge of massive blue stars that spans a 10,000 light-year-long branch, exits the spiral arm of Orion and connects to Perseus.
The study says that the motif is a compact structure of stars that appears to have uniform motion and is located about 300 light-years above the middle plane of the galaxy. Astronomers who have looked at other galaxies have noticed a similar consistency in altitude, but the pair’s discovery is the first time this has been confirmed in our home galaxy.
“In the map of the galaxy that we drew, an increased density of stars was observed in space that appeared to be empty in the past,” said Pantellioni.
The blue stars are the largest, rarest, and hottest stars in the galaxy. Of the 400 billion stars in the Milky Way, there are fewer than one in a million blue stars. While the surface temperature of a star like the Sun is about 5,500 degrees Celsius, temperatures on blue stars exceed 30,000 degrees Celsius.
The blue stars are the most interesting thing in the universe, because the nuclear reactions that take place inside them are particularly violent, which makes them factories where the largest elements in the universe are created, said Abellanez and Pantellioni.
“The elements that make up our planet, such as silicon or phosphorous atoms in our DNA, mostly come from the interior of stars, of this kind that died billions of years ago,” Pantellioni added.