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An international team of astrophysicists has discovered hundreds of mysterious structures at the center of the Milky Way.
These one-dimensional cosmic filaments are hundreds of horizontal or radial filaments – long, thin bodies of glowing gas that may have formed a few million years ago when they erupted from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*, and interacted with surrounding material. . . to do A study published on Friday In Astrophysical Journal Letters. The threads are relatively short in length, ranging from 5 to 10 in size each light years.
The findings came nearly 40 years after the study’s lead author, Farhad Yousefzadeh, and other researchers. I discovered another demographic About 1,000 one-dimensional filaments, vertical and up to 150 light-years long each, are located near the galactic center. Yousefzadeh and his collaborators found hundreds of pairs and groups of vertical filaments in the same region in 2022, realizing that these filaments may be related to Sagittarius A* activity, not supernova explosions. The new study reinforces and builds on previous findings.
It was surprising, said Yousefzadeh, a professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. press release.
Yousef Sadeh, who is also a member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and Research in Astrophysics, added: “I was really shocked when I saw these things. We had to do a lot of work to prove that we weren’t fooling ourselves.” We found… it is satisfying when one finds order in the midst of the chaotic sphere of our galactic nucleus. ”
Erica Hamden, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, said the discoveries about the black hole, which is located about 26,000 light-years from Earth, are “truly amazing” and “proves how beautiful the universe is.” Stady
Sagittarius A* “is our closest black hole, but it’s relatively quiet, so it’s somewhat difficult to actually study,” Hamden added. “But this work does provide evidence that a lot of energy has recently been released into space in the form of an outward jet and conical flow.”
The researchers found the structures by analyzing images produced by the Radio Astronomy Observatory in South Africa. Meerkat telescopeIt consists of 64 satellite dishes, each 65 feet (about 20 meters) high and connected to interceptors 5 miles (about 8 kilometers) from a sparsely populated area.
“The new Meerkat notes are a game-changer,” Yousefzadeh said. “This is truly a technical achievement for radio astronomers.”
Despite the similarities between the newly discovered fibers and those identified in 1984, the authors of the new study do not believe that the populations share the same characteristics.
The press release says the vertical threads are perpendicular to the galactic plane, while the horizontal threads are parallel to the plane and point radially toward the black hole. The vertical filaments surround the core of the Milky Way, while the horizontal filaments extend to one side, toward the black hole.
“The distribution and alignment of the fibers can help show how materials moved and deformed in the past,” Hamden said.
Their behavior is also different: horizontal fibers emit thermal radiation and associated matter. molecular clouds The outflow from the black hole is partially or fully merged, the authors write. molecular clouds It consists of gas, dust and stars. On the other hand, vertical fibers are magnetic and pinned cosmic ray electrons moving at the speed of light.
The authors believe that further study of the newly discovered filaments will help them “know more about the direction of rotation and accretion of the black disk,” Yousefzadeh said.
Black hole accelerator disk A thin, hot object formed by a nearby star is being pulled in a circle around the black hole.
An ejection is driven by jets from the black hole, Hamden said, so follow-up is necessary to determine if more filaments are emerging on either side of the black hole. A jet in this context is a ray of matter ejected from some astronomical body.
Hamden added that a black hole “usually ejects jets symmetrically…so there must be a pair.” “One way to confirm that the (filamentous) structure is formed from something like a jet is to find both sides of it.”
This, he said, “will add to the complex and dynamic picture of our Milky Way.”
Yousefzadeh said he believes their work will “never be complete”.
“We must always make new observations, constantly challenge our ideas and sharpen our analysis,” he said.