Astronomers from Harvard University have found the presence of a wave-shaped gaseous structure named ‘Radcliffe Wave’ in the Milky Way Galaxy. According to the research which has been published in the journal – Nature – the wave structure is the largest ever seen in the galaxy and is made up of interconnected stellar nurseries.
The study was enabled through a relatively new analysis of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft which was launched in 2013 along with the mission of precisely measuring the distance, position, and motion of the stars.
The researchers combined the data from Gaia which was super-accurate, with other measurements for constructing a detailed, 3D map of interstellar matter in the Milky Way, and noticed an unexpected pattern in the spiral arm which is closest to the Earth.
The researchers further discovered a thin, long structure, about 9,000 light-years long and 400 light-years wide, having a shape that of a wave, cresting 500 light-years above and below the mid-plane of our galaxy’s disk.
The wave consists of stellar nurseries that have been previously thought to form a part of the ‘Gould’s Belt’, which is a band of star-forming regi