New map of the cold and dense interstellar gas surrounding the local cavity in the plane of the galaxy. White areas represent regions of extremely low gas density (which are probably filled with hot and ionized gas), whereas dark areas reveal where large condensations of cold and dense gas occur. Notice that the local cavity is surrounded by many of these condensations, but this "wall" is broken in several places by low density ‘interstellar tunnels’ that link the local cavity with other nearby bubble cavities such as the Pleiades and GSH 238+00+09.
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The local cavity, when viewed side-on, reveals a tube-like chimney that extends from the galactic plane up into the lower halo region of our galaxy. Such chimneys can act as vents for energetic hot gas produced in supernovas.
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The first detailed map of space within about 1,000 light years of Earth places the solar system in the middle of a large hole that pierces the plane of the galaxy, perhaps left by an exploding star one or two million years ago.
The new map, produced by University of California, Berkeley, and French astronomers, alters the reigning view of the solar neighborhood. In that picture, the sun lies in the middle of a hot bubble - a region of million-degree hydrogen gas with 100-1,000 times fewer hydrogen atoms than the average gas density in the Milky Way - and is surrounded by a solid wall of colder, denser gas.
Instead, said astronomer Barry Welsh of UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, the region around the sun is an irregular cavity of low-density gas that has tunnels branching off through the surrounding dense gas wall. Welsh and his French colleagues suspect that the interconnecting cavities and tunnels, analogous to the holes in a sponge, were created by supernovas or very strong stellar winds that swept out large regions and, when they encountered one another, merged into passageways.
Robert Sanders | UC Berkeley News
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