NASA’s Chandra image suggests our galaxy’s center is venting

NASA’s Chandra image suggests our galaxy’s center is venting
NASA’s Chandra image suggests our galaxy’s center is venting

Researchers believe hot gases are being vented out of the galactic center due to material falling into a supermassive black hole.

NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory has spotted an exhaust vent attached to a “chimney” of hot gas blowing out from the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

The findings suggest that eruptions from the supermassive black hole at the galactic center may be the cause of this chimney and exhaust vent. The chimney begins at the center of the galaxy and stands perpendicular to the Milky Way’s spiral disk, according to researchers observing Chandra’s data.

Recent data from this observatory reveal several X-ray ridges, which the team believe are the walls of a tunnel that helps funnel hot gas as it moves away from the galactic center.

“We suspected that magnetic fields are acting as the walls of the chimney and that hot gas is traveling up through them, like smoke,” said astrophysicist Scott Mackey who led the study. “Now we’ve discovered an exhaust vent near the top of the chimney.”

The researchers think this exhaust vent formed when hot gas rising through the chimney struck cooler gas that was in its path. An image from Chandra shows the left side of the exhaust vent being brighter than the other side, which is likely due to gas striking this tunnel wall at a more direct angle and with more force.

An image of gases taken from the Chandra X-ray observatory. Image: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Chicago/SC Mackey et al.; Radio: NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/N. Wolf

The authors of the study think that the hot gas is most likely coming from certain events such as material falling into the supermassive black hole. This material then leads to eruptions of gas shooting upwards along the chimney.

The particles and energy in the wind could also help researchers learn more about the origin of two mysterious structures around the center of the Milky Way – the Fermi and eRosita Bubbles, named after the telescopes that discovered them.

These gamma ray bubbles extend for thousands of light-years away from the center of the galaxy and are believed to be linked to past explosive activity near the center of the galaxy.

“The origin of the Fermi Bubbles and the eRosita Bubbles are some of the biggest mysteries faced by studies of the high energy radiation from our galaxy,” said study co-author Dr. Gabriele Ponti. “We’ve discovered a small structure that might play a large role in the creation of these gigantic bubbles.”

Meanwhile, there are reports that astronomers are not happy about proposed NASA budget cuts that would impact the Chandra observatory.

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