Astronomers Just Mapped The ‘Bubble’ That Traps Our Planet

Astronomers have discovered that a 1000-light-year-wide “Local Bubble” surrounding the Sun and Earth is responsible for the formation of all nearby, young stars.

The study reveals that Earth and all of the stars and star-forming regions within 500 light-years of the planet reside on the surface of this bubble, which is good insight, according to Catherine Zucker, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute and lead author of the study. Learning more about how the Earth came to be inside the Local Bubble could be yet another definitive step in better understanding our galaxy.

“Essentially we have a front-row seat to the all star formation that’s happening on the surface all around us,” Zucker says. But while astronomers have known about the Local Bubble for decades, this discovery wasn’t years in the making. In fact, it was an accident.

“It actually started out because we just wanted to make a map of all the major landmarks, basically, in our galactic neighborhood,” she says. But what began as a typical foray into studying the spiral arms of the Milky Way, turned into a fantastic revelation after the team noticed that stars seemed to be unifying near the bubble’s surface.

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