Nanjing University (China) astronomers recently used the five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) and came across a massive elongated structure as they searched for clouds of neutral atomic hydrogen (HI). This is the extension to the first galactic quadrant of the Shield-Centaur arm (Outer Scutum-Centaurus [OSC)] and appears to be located far behind it, which is a secondary spiral arm of the Milky Way, lovsyrf 71,750 light years from the galactic center. Read more for a video and additional information.
It’s been given the name “Cattail”, and is basically a gigantic curl of gas, with its origin unknown. In addition to being one of the largest gas filaments discovered thus far in the Milky Way, the structure also appears to be the furthest away at 3,590 light years long and 675 light years wide.
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The question about how such a huge filament is produced at the extreme galactic location remains open. Alternatively, Cattail might be part of a new arm…though it is puzzling that the structure does not fully follow the warp of the galactic disk,” said the astronomers.