Astronomers discovered a twisted ring of gas that looks like an "infinity symbol", stretching past 600 light-years across the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
The gaseous ring gives birth to new stars, and parts of the ring have been seen before, but not entirely.
The discovery of the entire structure was made using a powerful infrared space telescope, the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope. The Herschel peers into the Milky Way center detecting infrared and sub-millimeter light.
Astronomers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California were astounded by what they saw when they aimed the telescope at the galaxy's inner ring.
JPL officials said in a statement "[The] ring, which is in the plane of our galaxy, looked more like an infinity symbol with two lobes pointing to the side. In fact, they later determined the ring was torqued in the middle, so it only appears to have two lobes. To picture the structure, imagine holding a stiff, elliptical band and twisting the ends in opposite directions, so that one side comes up a bit."
Scientists have yet to understand how gas rings form in spiral galaxies, and why the newly observed "infinity symbol" is twisted.
Sergio Molinari of the Institute of Space Physics in Rome said "We have a new and exciting mystery on our hands, right at the center of our own galaxy."
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