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An Out of this World Discovery by Grace Fogarty

Posted on Jan 7, 2020 by in The OFI Blog |

A photo of the Milky Way is overlaid with data from the “Radcliffe Wave.”  Image from WorldWide Telescope, (WWT) courtesy of Alyssa Goodman.



Alyssa Goodman, a research associate for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), part of a group of researchers who helped create and study a 3D image of the largest gaseous structure ever observed in the Milky Way Galaxy called the “Radcliffe Wave.” This discovery has changed our understanding of the Milky Way’s structure. The research has been published in The Astrophysical Journal and Nature and a dedicated website has been created for the public.

Alyssa Goodman, the Robert Wheeler Willson Professor of Applied Astronomy, research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, and co-director of the Science Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Photo courtesy of Harvard University’s Department of Astronomy.


This collaborative research shines an entirely new light on our galactic neighborhood. It also presents researchers a new view of the Milky Way and makes other major discoveries possible.

You can learn more about the “Radcliffe Wave” and read Goodman’s comments on this major discovery here.