Feeds

Exploding stars drive Galactic geysers

Fortunate Earth isn’t in the firing line

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The truly enormous jets of matter flung out from the centre of the Milky Way galaxy are not, as previously believed, the detritus of a supermassive black hole. Rather, the “galactic geysers” are caused by stars forming and exploding at the centre of the galaxy.

The new study combined observations from NASA in 2010 with a survey by Australia’s 64-meter Parkes radio telescope. Among other things, the research found that the outpouring is as much as a million times the energy of an exploding star.

The outflows reach 50,000 light years out from the galactic plane, and the scientists estimate the speed of the outflow at 1,000 kilometers per second.

Galactic Geysers

Composite image showing the “galactic geysers” (blue).

Image composition, Eli Bressert, CSIRO.

The story begins with space-based observations of gamma rays from NASA’s Fermi space telescope, dubbed the “Fermi Bubbles”, as well as the detection of a microwave haze by the WMAP and Planck space telescopes.

Examining the same regions with the Parkes instrument, the new study identified “two giant, linearly polarized radio lobes, containing three ridge-like structures, emanating from the galactic centre”, the scientists write in Nature (abstract here).

The structure indicates that rather than emanating from the supermassive black hole in the middle of the Milky Way, the lobes are driven by “star-power” – and the magnetic energy involved is huge, at 1055 ergs.

Those magnetic fields also revealed the source of the outflows, according to Dr Ronald Crocker, who divides his time between the Australian National University and the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg.

According to another team member, Dr Marijke Haverkorn of the Netherlands’ Radboud University Nijmegen, the outflow “is carrying off not just gas and high-energy electrons, but strong magnetic fields. We suspect this may play a big part in generating the Galaxy’s overall magnetic field.”

You wouldn’t want to live anywhere near the outflows, which fortunately for us don’t point anywhere near the solar system. Dr Wiebke Ebeling of Australia’s Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics told The Australian that even at our distance – 30,000 light years from the centre – the fields would be so strong that “every single atom in your body would start vibrating and generating such heat you’d melt in an instant.”

The CSIRO has a media release here. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.