Star formation near the Sun is driven by expansion of the Local Bubble

Catherine Zucker (Corresponding author), Alyssa A. Goodman, João Alves, Shmuel Bialy, Michael Foley, Joshua S. Speagle, Josefa Großschedl, Douglas P. Finkbeiner, Andreas Burkert, Diana Khimey, Cameren Swiggum

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


For decades we have known that the Sun lies within the Local Bubble, a cavity of low-density, high-temperature plasma surrounded by a shell of cold, neutral gas and dust1,2,3. However, the precise shape and extent of this shell4,5, the impetus and timescale for its formation6,7, and its relationship to nearby star formation8 have remained uncertain, largely due to low-resolution models of the local interstellar medium. Here we report an analysis of the three-dimensional positions, shapes and motions of dense gas and young stars within 200 pc of the Sun, using new spatial9,10,11 and dynamical constraints12. We find that nearly all of the star-forming complexes in the solar vicinity lie on the surface of the Local Bubble and that their young stars show outward expansion mainly perpendicular to the bubble’s surface. Tracebacks of these young stars’ motions support a picture in which the origin of the Local Bubble was a burst of stellar birth and then death (supernovae) taking place near the bubble’s centre beginning approximately 14 Myr ago. The expansion of the Local Bubble created by the supernovae swept up the ambient interstellar medium into an extended shell that has now fragmented and collapsed into the most prominent nearby molecular clouds, in turn providing robust observational support for the theory of supernova-driven star formation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334–337
Number of pages4
Issue number7893
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 103004 Astrophysics
  • 103003 Astronomy


  • Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
  • GAS

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