Gi­ant X-ray 'chim­neys' are ex­haust vents for vast en­er­gies pro­duced at Milky Way's cen­ter

Sun.Star Pampanga - - SCIENCE! - Sciencedaily

TEach plume orig­i­nates within about 160 lightyears of the su­per­mas­sive black hole and spans over 500 light-years.

The chim­neys hook up to two gar­gan­tuan struc­tures known as the Fermi bub­bles, cav­i­ties carved out of the gas that en­velops the gal­axy. The bub­bles, which are filled with high-speed par­ti­cles, straddle the cen­ter of the gal­axy and stretch for 25,000 lightyears in ei­ther di­rec­tion. Some as­tronomers sus­pect that the Fermi bub­bles are relics of mas­sive erup­tions from the su­per­mas­sive black hole, while oth­ers think the bub­bles are blown out by hordes of newly born stars. Ei­ther way, the chim­neys could be the con­duits through which high-speed par­ti­cles get there. Un­der­stand­ing how en­ergy makes its way from a gal­axy's cen­ter to its outer lim­its could pro­vide in­sights into why some gal­ax­ies are burst­ing with star for­ma­tion whereas oth­ers are dor­mant.

"In ex­treme cases, that foun­tain of en­ergy can ei­ther trig­ger or shut off star for­ma­tion in the gal­axy," Mor­ris said.

Our gal­axy isn't quite that ex­treme -- other gal­ax­ies have foun­tains pow­ered by cen­tral black holes weigh­ing a thou­sand times more than ours -- but the Milky Way's cen­ter pro­vides

an up-close look at what might be hap­pen­ing in gal­ax­ies that are more en­er­getic.

"We know that out­flows and winds of ma­te­rial and en­ergy em­a­nat­ing from a gal­axy are cru­cial in sculpt­ing and al­ter­ing that gal­axy's shape over time - they're key play­ers in how gal­ax­ies, and other struc­tures, form and evolve through­out the cos­mos," said lead au­thor Gabriele Ponti of the Max Planck In­sti­tute for Ex­trater­res­trial Physics in Garch­ing, Ger­many. "Luck­ily, our gal­axy gives us a nearby lab­o­ra­tory to ex­plore this in de­tail, and probe how ma­te­rial flows out into the space around us."

Mor­ris said the cen­ters of the near­est gal­ax­ies are hun­dreds to thou­sands of times far­ther away than our own. "The amount of en­ergy com­ing out of the cen­ter of our gal­axy is lim­ited, but it's a re­ally good ex­am­ple of a ga­lac­tic cen­ter that we can ob­serve and try to un­der­stand," he said.

Nine au­thors from five coun­tries contributed to the study. The re­search was funded by NASA, the French Na­tional Cen­ter for Space Stud­ies, the French Na­tional Agency for Re­search, the Ger­man Fed­eral Min­istry of Eco­nomics and Tech­nol­ogy, the Ger­man Aero­space Cen­ter and the Max Planck So­ci­ety.

he cen­ter of our gal­axy is a frenzy of ac­tiv ity. A be­he­moth black hole -- 4 mil­lion times as mas­sive as the sun -- blasts out en­ergy as it chows down on in­ter­stel­lar de­tri­tus while neigh­bor­ing stars burst to life and sub­se­quently ex­plode.

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