Astronomers have found a “bone”, i.e. a newly discovered structure, in the Milky Way that is composed of dust and gas having nearly 100,000 times the material of the sun.
This newly found Milky Way bone is 300 light-years in length and 1-2 light years in width with the shape of a slender cosmic snake.
“This is the first time we’ve seen such a delicate piece of the galactic skeleton,” study lead author Alyssa Goodman, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a statement. “This bone is much more like a fibula — the long skinny bone in your leg — than it is like the tibia, or big thick leg bone.”
Researchers found the bone during their studies of a dust cloud nicknames “Nessie”, which was first spotted in 2010 in the data gathered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Although the researchers already found the Nessie bone but the new research presented that the length of the bone is much more than the previous suggestions i.e. perhaps eight times more in length.
“It’s possible that the ‘Nessie’ bone lies within a spiral arm (wrapping around the disk of the spiral galaxy), or that it is part of a web connecting bolder spiral features. Our hope is that we and other astronomers will find more of these features, and use them to map the skeleton of the Milky Way in 3-D,” Goodman added.
Researchers presented the finding at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif.