There’s a ‘ghostly circle’ around the Big Dipper, say scientists

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EXCERPTS: . . . The discovery of this unique object—named the “Ursa Major Arc”—was presented this week at an online meeting of the American Astronomical Society after being published in the April volume of Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters. So what is this “ghostly circle?” It could be a shock wave from an explosion or a supernova that happened 60º above the plane of the Milky Way, probably over 100,000 years ago, and at a distance of about 600 light-years.

The stars of the Big Dipper are between 58 and 124 light-years distant. The shockwave could even be partially responsible for creating a clearing of gas and dust above our Sun—the one that let’s us see deep into the cosmos beyond our own galaxy. “This region of the sky is known for several interstellar windows used to study the properties of galaxies outside the Milky Way,” said Robert Benjamin, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. “This arc may be evidence for one of the explosions that created these windows.”

When you look at the Big Dipper you’re looking away from the center of our galaxy and into the emptier regions of the outer Milky Way and far beyond... (MORE - details)

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