Our Milky Way galaxy is unfathomably big, as pretty much any other galaxy in the Universe. Having a diameter of roughly 100,000 light-years across, the galaxy that hosts us all stretches across much larger distances in the Cosmos than any spaceship could ever travel.
Milky Way features a splinter in its arm of about 3,000 light-years across. The new discovery is detailed in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
A “break” is present in the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way
The mysterious “break” was discovered in the Sagittarius arm of our galaxy, slashing through the spiral. We’re talking about the first major structure that was discovered to disrupt the flow of the Sagittarius arm.
Robert Benjamin, a co-author of the study and also an astrophysicist at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, declared as quoted by NASA’s website:
This structure is a small piece of the Milky Way, but it could tell us something significant about the galaxy as a whole,
Ultimately, this is a reminder that there are many uncertainties about the large-scale structure of the Milky Way, and we need to look at the details if we want to understand that bigger picture.
The splinter begins about 4,000 light-years from our Sun, and it falls in the region that has four nebulae – the Trifid Nebula, the Omega Nebula, the Eagle Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula.
Data from the Spitzer Space Telescope of NASA and the Gaia satellite of the ESA (European Space Agency) helped scientists in their discovery.
Astronomers believe that the Milky Way was made from other galaxies, and the whole structure is almost as old as the Universe itself. Roughly 13.7 billion years have passed since the Big Bang, which is considered the moment when our Universe was born.