CTV News shares an article by Marcia Dunn, a writer for the Associated Press, on the discovery of the ‘Radcliffe Wave,’ a colossal arm of star-forming gases that resembles the shape of a sinusoidal wave. Researcher at Harvard University found this structure within the closest spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy.
Using data from the Gaia spacecraft, Harvard’s astronomers built a 3-D map of the Milky Way. They found a 50 quadrillion mile long ‘stellar nursery’ – a region of gas formerly thought to be a ring-like structure around the Milky Way’s center. Dunn mentions that researchers must now endeavor to determine whether there are more wave-like nurseries out there, and what their origins are.
Dunn does not report on one of the most fascinating parts of the study; that not only is this gaseous formation wave-shaped, but it is undulating – the gas is moving as if a true electromagnetic wave within the spiral arm. Over the course of the news article, no mention is given to suspected explanations for the wave. Within the research paper, however, the researchers provide possible, but far from verified, predictions for its origin. They suggest that large-scale gravitational settling and cooling of gases on a Galactic scale created the arm – but the cause of the undulation will be a challenging project.
The article is concise, well written, and void of conflicting interests or bias. The Associated Press is a popular editorial organization and is shared by the reputable CTV. It references the journal Science (where the article is published), one of the most credible repositories for scientific research.
The content of the article correctly summarizes many key points from the study. The article avoids many details in favor of brevity and simplicity, which, given the complexity of the study, is probably for the best. The takeaways are generally correct, though more detail on what is unknown about the structure, and where future research will target, would be beneficial.
The article contains relatively little jargon that would be inaccessible to the general public. Supporting quotes from reputable sources are not provided to assist with presentation. The paper itself is not directly linked, and lies behind a paywall, making it difficult to cross-reference with the news article.
This article, posted by CTV News, discusses a new discovery made by astronomers about the contents of the Milky Way Galaxy. It was recently discovered that there exists a large wave-like structure in the Milky Way that has the potential for creating countless new stars. This structure is in the galaxy’s spiral arm closest to Earth and has severely affected scientists’ understanding of our galactic neighbourhood. This structure was named the Radcliffe Wave after a Harvard institute. Although the discovery is fascinating, the actual science behind how it occurred is rather vague, because the article grossly oversimplifies almost every aspect of the process and its findings. Worse yet, the article does not link to the original journal, so there is no point of reference for the quality of its summarization.
There are clearly references used outside of the original study, such as press releases and background info regrading the Gaia spacecraft. Confusingly, no links were provided for these sources either, which is rather odd for a journalism website. The only cited resource was an illustration of the Radcliffe Wave provided by Harvard. Another unexpected thing to see on a journalism website is a lack of biography or previous publications from the author of the article. This lowers the credibility of the article and makes it seem far less professional. While this article is rather well written and was posted to a credible website, it was clearly made for a less scientifically literate audience. For those in that audience, it is absolutely good enough, but those looking for more detail into the scientific process and the significance of the findings should look for a different news source.
The views expressed by the reviewers for this article are not endorsed or shared by SciFeye. The interpretation of the review of the news story using the SciFeye Index was done independently by two SciFeye reviewers. We encourage you to conduct your own evaluation of the accuracy and quality of the news story using the Index.