Quirks & Quarks

The Earth is at the centre of a cosmic bubble created by supernovae

The 1000 light-year across 'Local Bubble' was swept clean of gas, dust, and other star-forming materials by as many as 15 supernovas over the past 14 million years

New study of the 'Local Bubble' traces the history of the strangely empty region of space

Labelled illustration of the Local Bubble (Leah Hustak, Space Telescope Science Institute)

Astronomers have known for several decades that the Earth and our sun sit in the middle of a cosmic bubble, 1000 light-years wide, known as the Local Bubble. A new study has traced its history and evolution, explaining why this area of space is strrangely empty, and why at its edge a burst of star formation has been happening. 

This new picture was developed by a team that included Catherine Zucker from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

The team's new study, published this week, traces how the the Local Bubble was formed by as many as 15 supernovas exploding in our galactic neighborhood over the past 14 million years. As the supernovas occurred, their shock waves  swept gas and dust up and pushed it out of our stellar neighborhood. At the border of the Local Bubble, this material has piled up and is forming new stars .

Click on the link at at the top of this page to hear Bob McDonald's interview with astronomer Catherine Zucker.

Produced and written by Mark Crawley



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