The Radcliffe Wave and the new Local Galactic Neighborhood

04/07/2021 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Online by Zoom
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s): 
João Alves (University of Vienna)
Type of Event (for grouping events):
For the past 150 years, the local interstellar medium's prevailing view has been based on a peculiarity known as the Gould Belt, an expanding ring of young stars, gas and dust, tilted about 20 degrees to the Galactic plane. However, the physical relationship between local gas clouds has remained unknown because the accuracy in distance measurements to such clouds is of the same order as, or larger than, their sizes. With the advent of large photometric surveys and the astrometric survey, in particular ESA Gaia, this situation has changed. In this talk, I will present the three-dimensional structure of all local cloud complexes. We find a narrow and coherent 2.7-kiloparsec arrangement of dense gas in the solar neighborhood that contains many of the clouds thought to be associated with the Gould Belt. This finding is inconsistent with the notion that these clouds are part of a ring, bringing the Gould Belt model into question. The structure comprises the majority of nearby star-forming regions, has an aspect ratio of about 1:20, and contains about three million solar masses of gas. Remarkably, this structure appears to be undulating, and its three-dimensional shape is well described by a damped sinusoidal wave on the plane of the Milky Way. I will also present ongoing work on the gas's space motion in the closest massive star factory, the Orion complex, and the dispersal of young stars into the Galactic field.
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