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Astronomers have discovered a giant, empty cavity lurking in space

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

It may not appear so to us, but the space between the stars isn't completely empty. Tenuous and not-so-tenuous clouds of gas and dust drift in the darkness.

A region of space some 700 light-years away is a fascinating exception. There, among the constellations of Perseus and Taurus, astronomers have found a large, spherical void over 500 light-years in diameter. Around its perimeter are the Perseus and Taurus molecular clouds – dense clouds of cold gas and dust where stars form.

It's called the Per-Tau Shell, and it seems to be the product of at least one giant supernova explosion millions of years ago. It's likely that this phenomenon compressed and triggered star formation in the two molecular clouds.

"Hundreds of stars are forming or exist already at the surface of this giant bubble," said theoretical astrophysicist Shmuel Bialy of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).



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