Is there really a hole in space?
There’s a pretty empty void in the middle of a star cluster – but is it really what it seems?
Asked by Elle Margo
When the Herschel Space Telescope peered into NGC 1999 (a region of dust and gas) it confused astronomers as there appeared to be a hole. Now the ‘hole’ in this case was not what we would usually imagine, but rather a patch of empty space. We often think of space as a pretty empty void, but the reason this hole was different was because it was in the middle of a star cluster. It looked as if an area of space had been cleared out or blown away.
Current thoughts are that this is exactly what happened, newly formed stars have high-powered jets of gas that potentially could have blasted a hole right through the nebulous cloud. The discovery was an important one as it gives us a glimpse into how these star-forming clouds are dispersed.
Answered by Josh Barker from the National Space Centre