Great Rift (astronomy)
In astronomy, the Great Rift (sometimes called the Dark Side, Dark Rift, or, less commonly, Dark River) is a series of overlapping, non-luminous, molecular dust clouds that are located between the Solar System and the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy at a distance of about 100 parsecs or about 300 light years (2×1015 miles or 3×1015 kilometers) from Earth. The clouds are estimated to contain about 1 million solar masses of plasma and dust.
Starting at the constellation of Cygnus, where it is known as the Cygnus Rift or Northern Coalsack, the Great Rift stretches to Aquila; to Ophiuchus, where it broadens out; to Sagittarius, where it obscures the Galactic Center; and finally to Centaurus. One of the most important regions it obscures is the Cygnus OB2 association, a large cluster of young stars and one of the largest regions of star formation near Earth. A similar dark band can be seen in edge-on distant galaxies, such as NGC 891 in Andromeda.
Wide angle view the Milky Way near the Cygnus constellation showing the dark lane of the Great Rift.
Radio image showing intense radio emissions emanating from the center of the Milky Way.
Mysterious ring composed of very dense and cold gas and dust at the center of the Milky Way.
Image showing the dense and compact regions where gas and dust clump together in the galaxy.
- Great Rift: Dark area in the Milky Way 2010 EarthSky Communications. Accessed June 2010
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- Kaler, Jim. "The Milky Way - From STARS". University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Department of Astronomy. pp. Maps 2 and 5. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- Dark River, Wide Field by Rogelio Bernal Andreo, at APOD