Researchers find a ‘break’ in one of the Milky Way’s arms

Cosmologists have accomplished some great work in sorting out what our home Milky Way galaxy resembles, despite the fact that we’re sitting within it. We know it’s a spiral galaxy and that it has two significant arms. A new study uncovers one of the cosmic minor arms has a “break” in it, a set of stars and gas mists that are standing out.

NASA on Tuesday depicted the break as resembling a splinter standing out from wood. “Stretching some 3,000 light-years, this is the first major structure identified with an orientation so dramatically different than the arm’s,” the space organization said in a press release.

The structure that is standing out incorporates youthful stars and a group of nebulae, including the Lagoon Nebula and the Eagle Nebula, home to Hubble’s renowned Pillars of Creation picture. Rather than holding tight to the twisting of the galaxy’s Sagittarius Arm, the structure distends at a notable angle.

Caltech astrophysicist Michael Kuhn is the lead creator of the study, published last month in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The research team used information from NASA’s currently resigned Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia space observatory to find infant stars and measure distances to them to make a 3D look at the arm segment.

“When we put the Gaia and Spitzer data together and finally see this detailed, three-dimensional map, we can see that there’s quite a bit of complexity in this region that just hasn’t been apparent before,” said Kuhn. Researchers have seen comparative structures in spiral galaxies seen by our telescopes. These structures have been called spurs or feathers.

“The stars in the newly discovered structure likely formed around the same time, in the same general area, and were uniquely influenced by the forces acting within the galaxy, including gravity and shear due to the galaxy’s rotation,” said NASA.

The Milky Way is our home (Earth resides in the small Orion arm), and it will keep on being a challenge to work out the subtleties of its structure. As NASA said, it resembles remaining in Times Square and attempting to draw a map of the whole island of Manhattan.

The “splinter” discover gives researchers a new viewpoint on the galaxy. It might have particular spiral arms, yet few out of every odd star and cloud is coloring within the lines.