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Scientists Discover the Source of the Cosmic Neighborhood Around Our Planet

By: April Carson

The nature of the Solar System's Local Bubble, a huge hole in space that encompasses the Solar System, has been determined by astronomers. Its age was found to be 14.4 million years, and it was produced as a result of 15 supernova explosions separated by one million years.

What is the Local Bubble?

The solar system is part of the local interstellar cloud, which, in turn, is nested inside the Local Bubble – a 300 light-year diameter cavity crowded with hot rarefied plasma and encircled by a shell of cool neutral gas and dust.

However, the form and size of this structure, as well as its age, have not yet been determined, with the possible presence of star formation processes possibly contributing to its origin.

The study of molecular gas clouds and star clusters

The position in space, form, and motion of molecular gas clouds and young (less than 20 million years old) star clusters within 200 parsecs of the Sun has been studied by a team of astronomers from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics under Catherine Zucker's leadership.

The scientists, using data from the Gaia satellite, constructed a 3D map of the solar neighborhood and a new model of the Local Bubble's inner surface, as well as computer simulations to comprehend the nature of the Bubble and re-create star formation processes in its vicinity.

Every known molecular cloud within 200 parsecs of the Sun, such as star-forming regions in the Scorpio-Centaurus association, the South Corona region, and the Taurus molecular cloud, is on the surface of the Local Bubble.

The only exception is the Perseus Molecular Cloud, which has moved due to the recently discovered Perseus-Taurus Superbubble. The surface of each cloud is smooth and uniformly elongated, with a lamellar or filamentous morphology.

Scientists discovered that 15–16 million years ago, in the Scorpio-Centaurus association, clusters of Upper Centauri - Wolf and Lower Centauri - Southern Cross were formed, separated by a distance of around 15 parsecs.

At the end of their lives, the most massive stars in the clusters exploded as supernovas, triggering the Local Bubble's growth.

What caused the local bubble and what followed?

Taking into account the entire mass of the Bubble shell (approximately 1.4 million solar masses) and the current rate of expansion (6.7 kilometers per second), we can infer that 15 supernova explosions lasting one million years were required to create it. The age of the Local Bubble is thought to be 14.4 million years old.

The researchers propose that, following the formation of the Local Bubble, there were four distinct eras of star birth in the clouds trapped within its expanding shell. The Upper Scorpio association was formed 10 million years ago, and the ancient stellar population in Ophiuchus has been around for 6 million years. Stars were formed in clusters in the Southern Corona and Taurus 6 million years ago.

The Lupus and Chameleon constellations formed around 2 million years ago, and a younger star cluster was created in the Taurus and Ophiuchus constellations.

Finally, in the shell of the Bubble, star formation processes are presently occurring. Only 5 million years ago, the sun entered the Local Bubble and was some 300 parsecs distant.

According to the researchers, the new space telescope data on stellar speeds Gaia might not only assist in establishing a more precise image of the Local Bubble's evolution but also allow for similar research in other parts of the Milky Way. This will allow us to better define and classify the model of star formation that supernova explosions generate.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav




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