NASA and the University of Zurich have announced the discovery of what are believed to be the darkest spots in the galaxy outside of a black hole's event horizon.
These shadows, formed by clumps of extremely dense gas clouds, were first observed using the Spitzer Space Telescope. They are part of a much larger cloud of gas and elemental particles that will eventually condense into O-type stars, which are among the brightest and biggest in the observable universe.
As a NASA press release points out:
The dusty cloud, the results suggest, will likely evolve into one of the most massive young clusters of stars in our galaxy. The densest clumps will blossom into the cluster's biggest, most powerful stars, called O-type stars, the formation of which has long puzzled scientists. These hulking stars have major impacts on their local stellar environments while also helping to create the heavy elements needed for life.
And the more we uncover regarding how these galactic factories form, we inch ever closer to answering the fundamental question of how the Milky Way came to be—and ourselves along with it. [NASA]
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Zurich