Local Bubble

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Local Bubble
Representation of the Local Bubble with at its surface some star-forming regions
Observation data
Distancely   (0 pc)
Physical characteristics
Radius500 ly
DesignationsLocal Hot Bubble, LHB,[1] Local Bubble, Local Interstellar Bubble[2]
See also: Lists of nebulae
Model of space near the Sun: (grey) Local Bubble, (magenta) molecular clouds, (cyan) Loop I Bubble.

The Local Bubble, or Local Cavity,[3] is a relative cavity in the interstellar medium (ISM) of the Orion Arm in the Milky Way. It contains the closest of celestial neighbours and among others, the Local Interstellar Cloud (which contains the Solar System), the neighbouring G-Cloud, the Ursa Major moving group (the closest stellar moving group) and the Hyades (the nearest open cluster). It is estimated to be at least 1000 light years in size, and is defined by its neutral-hydrogen density of about 0.05 atoms/cm3, or approximately one tenth of the average for the ISM in the Milky Way (0.5 atoms/cm3), and one sixth that of the Local Interstellar Cloud (0.3 atoms/cm3).[dubious ][4]

The exceptionally sparse gas of the Local Bubble is the result of supernovae that exploded within the past ten to twenty million years. Geminga, a pulsar in the constellation Gemini, was once thought to be the remnant of a single supernova that created the Local Bubble, but now multiple supernovae in subgroup B1 of the Pleiades moving group are thought to have been responsible,[5] becoming a remnant supershell.[6]


The Solar System has been traveling through the region currently occupied by the Local Bubble for the last five to ten million years.[7] Its current location lies in the Local Interstellar Cloud (LIC), a minor region of denser material within the Bubble. The LIC formed where the Local Bubble and the Loop I Bubble met. The gas within the LIC has a density of approximately 0.3 atoms per cubic centimeter.

The Local Bubble is not spherical, but seems to be narrower in the galactic plane, becoming somewhat egg-shaped or elliptical, and may widen above and below the galactic plane, becoming shaped like an hourglass. It abuts other bubbles of less dense interstellar medium (ISM), including, in particular, the Loop I Bubble. The Loop I Bubble was cleared, heated and maintained by supernovae and stellar winds in the Scorpius–Centaurus association, some 500 light years from the Sun. The Loop I Bubble contains the star Antares (also known as α Sco, or Alpha Scorpii), as shown on the diagram above right. Several tunnels connect the cavities of the Local Bubble with the Loop I Bubble, called the "Lupus Tunnel".[8] Other bubbles which are adjacent to the Local Bubble are the Loop II Bubble and the Loop III Bubble. In 2019, researchers found interstellar iron in Antarctica which they relate to the Local Interstellar Cloud, which might be related to the formation of the Local Bubble.[9]


Close up on the Orion Arm, with major stellar associations (yellow), nebulae (red) and dark nebulae (grey) around the Local Bubble.

Launched in February 2003 and active until April 2008, a small space observatory called Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer (CHIPS or CHIPSat) examined the hot gas within the Local Bubble.[10] The Local Bubble was also the region of interest for the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer mission (1992–2001), which examined hot EUV sources within the bubble. Sources beyond the edge of the bubble were identified but attenuated by the denser interstellar medium. In 2019, the first 3D map of the Local Bubble has been reported using the observations of diffuse interstellar bands.[11]

Impact on star formation[edit]

In January 2022, a paper in the journal Nature found that observations and modelling had determined that the action of the expanding surface of the bubble had collected gas and debris and was responsible for the formation of all young, nearby stars.[12]

These new stars are typically in molecular clouds like the Taurus molecular cloud and the open star cluster Pleiades.


Artist's conception of the Local Bubble (containing the Sun and Beta Canis Majoris) and the Loop I Bubble (containing Antares)
The Local Bubble has 7 regions of star-forming molecular clouds on its surface which has an average radius of 500 light-years according to its determination from the three-dimensional extinction map.[13][14][15]
As the bubble expands it sweeps interstellar gas and dust which collapse to form new stars on its surface but not inside. The Sun entered the bubble around five million years ago.[13][14]
Local stars in the galactic plane (click for rotation)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Egger, Roland J.; Aschenbach, Bernd (February 1995). "Interaction of the Loop I supershell with the Local Hot Bubble". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 294 (2): L25–L28. arXiv:astro-ph/9412086. Bibcode:1995A&A...294L..25E.
  2. ^ "NAME Local Bubble". SIMBAD. Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  3. ^ Abt, Helmut A. (December 2015). "Hot gaseous stellar disks avoid regions of low interstellar densities". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 127 (958): 1218–1225. Bibcode:2015PASP..127.1218A. doi:10.1086/684436. S2CID 124774683.
  4. ^ "Our local galactic neighborhood". Interstellar.jpl.nasa.gov. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 8 February 2000. Archived from the original on 21 November 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  5. ^ Berghoefer, T.W.; Breitschwerdt, D. (2002). "The origin of the young stellar population in the solar neighborhood – a link to the formation of the Local Bubble?". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 390 (1): 299–306. arXiv:astro-ph/0205128v2. Bibcode:2002A&A...390..299B. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020627. S2CID 6002327.
  6. ^ Gabel, J.R.; Bruhweiler, F.C. (8 January 1998). "[51.09] Model of an expanding supershell structure in the LISM". American Astronomical Society. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Local Chimney and Superbubbles". Solstation.com.
  8. ^ Lallement, R.; Welsh, B.Y.; Vergely, J.L.; Crifo, F.; Sfeir, D. (2003). "3D mapping of the dense interstellar gas around the Local Bubble". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 411 (3): 447–464. Bibcode:2003A&A...411..447L. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20031214.
  9. ^ Koll, D.; et al. (2019). "Interstellar 60Fe in Antarctica". Physical Review Letters. 123 (7): 072701. Bibcode:2019PhRvL.123g2701K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.123.072701. PMID 31491090. S2CID 201868513.
  10. ^ "Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer (CHIPS)". Chips.ssl.berkeley.edu. University of California – Berkeley. 12 January 2003. Archived from the original on 21 November 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  11. ^ Farhang, Amin; van Loon, Jacco Th.; Khosroshahi, Habib G.; Javadi, Atefeh; Bailey, Mandy (8 July 2019). "3D map of the local bubble". Nature Astronomy (letter). 3: 922–927. arXiv:1907.07429. doi:10.1038/s41550-019-0814-z. S2CID 197402894.
  12. ^ "Star Formation near the Sun is driven by expansion of the Local Bubble". The Local Bubble. Retrieved 7 February 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ a b Zucker, Catherine; Goodman, Alyssa A.; Alves, João; Bialy, Shmuel; Foley, Michael; Speagle, Joshua S.; Großschedl, Josefa; Finkbeiner, Douglas P.; Burkert, Andreas; Khimey, Diana; Swiggum, Cameren (12 January 2022). "Star formation near the Sun is driven by expansion of the Local Bubble". Nature. 601 (7893): 334–337. arXiv:2201.05124. Bibcode:2022Natur.601..334Z. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04286-5. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 35022612. S2CID 245906333.
  14. ^ a b "1,000-Light-Year Wide Bubble Surrounding Earth is Source of All Nearby, Young Stars | Center for Astrophysics". www.cfa.harvard.edu. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  15. ^ Pelgrims, Vincent; Ferriere, Katia; Boulanger, Francois; Lallement, Rosine; Montier, Ludovic (17 February 2020). "Modeling the magnetized Local Bubble from dust data". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 636: A17. arXiv:1911.09691. Bibcode:2020A&A...636A..17P. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201937157. S2CID 208247955.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]