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Scientists Unravel Mystery of Giant Cosmic Bubble

A cluster of stars detonated to form fantastical supernovas. The blasts were so strong their sparkly leftovers pushed the surrounding shroud of interstellar gas outward until it drifted into a cosmic Bubble 1,000 light-years wide — a giant blob that’s still growing now.

Experts say that our very own sun flew directly into this. In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, scientists offer novel details of the saga using a 3D map of the enormous structure. Astronomers study seven spots in space where stars seem to form most often — Zucker’s study saw each one sitting right on the surface of the Local Bubble.

The team believes that starry Bubble similar to the one encompassing us show up all over the universe, but also that our positioning directly in the center of one is extremely rare. The researchers calculated that about 15 supernovas were responsible for the blob’s genesis approximately 14 million years ago.The sun appeared to have entered the orb about 5 million years ago, and the Bubble seems to be coasting along at about 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) per second. Alyssa Goodman, an astronomer at Harvard and Smithsonian’s Center for Astrophysics and author of the study, called the team’s findings an incredible detective story, driven by both data and theory.

Goodman is also the founder of Glue, the data visualization software that enabled the discovery.  The researchers hope to continue unlocking the secrets of interstellar Bubble, like the Local, by applying their software to 3D-map those that lie more profound in the universe.

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