(ORDO NEWS) — Galactic “bones” are huge sleeves of dense gas inside which stars are born.
The strange arrangement of magnetic fields inside the “bone” of the Milky Way interested scientists
This bone is a long filament of cold gas in the densest part of one of the galaxy’s spiral arms. Its length is about 195 light years.
The map, taken by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft, has for the first time allowed astronomers to assess the dynamics of the magnetic fields inside this huge object.
It turned out that the magnetic fields are not aligned along the length of the bone, but are more chaotic, while the average magnetic field is neither parallel nor perpendicular to the bone.
According to the researchers, this could help us better understand not only the structure of spiral galaxies, but also how stars are born inside them.
Scientists first identified one of the Milky Way’s bones back in 2013; they have since found a total of 18 related structures.
Our galaxy currently has a fairly low star formation rate, around three solar masses per year; however, what star formation does take place usually takes place in these so-called “bones”.
Just as our own bones are the densest part of our arms, so the galactic “bones” are the densest part of the arms of the Milky Way.
The defining properties of these bones are that they must be at least 50 times as long as they are wide, as well as close and mostly parallel to the galactic plane.
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