Scientists and astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia accidentally stumbled upon a massive, previously unknown structure in the Milky Way galaxy. Not everything is visible to the naked eye in our galaxy, as this discovery was made using radio spectrum, thanks to the telescope’s high level of sensitivity. The structure is composed of molecular gas and extends far into the distant parts of the Milky Way galaxy. Read more for a news segment and additional information.
To confirm that this accidental discovery wasn’t a fluke, the team studied another 100-hours of observations at many different points across parts of the galaxy and found that it has a similar shape and extent of other known components within the galactic structure. The mere existence of this structure has implications for star formation theories, as well as the structure, make-up, and total mass of the interstellar medium.
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To be even more sure, we tried several different independent signal processing techniques on the GBT and 20-meter results to attempt to remove the feature as if it were from the instrumental background, rather than a real signal, and none of these methods managed to remove it,” said researcher Philip Engelke.