Astronomers spot gargantuan "X-ray chimneys" in the center of our galaxy


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The black hole monster that anchors our galaxy is 28,000 light-years away from Earth. It's a good thing too. The area around this back hole is brimming with dangerous radiation and fragmented stars. Astronomers observing the center of the Milky Way have identified unusual features that remind us of how violent the region is. The galaxy sports a pair of gigantic X-ray "chimneys" that chase the matter and energy accumulated around the black hole.

UCLA Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Mark Morris, who contributed to the research, compares these features to aeration holes, releasing energy from the galaxy as X-rays. # 39; international team turned to the black hole, known as Sagittarius A * (pronounced "Sagittarius A Star") to learn about the formation of stars in the Milky Way. All galaxies favor the development of stars, but the rate of formation of new stars can vary enormously. The fate of matter and spiraling energy toward the central black hole of a galaxy can be an important factor in star formation.

To follow the tracks of the explosive material around Sagittarius A *, the researchers used the XMM-Newton satellite of the European Space Agency. This X-ray observatory was launched almost 20 years ago, but it continues to function. The team used data from 2012, as well as from 2016 to 2018 to see what the black hole was doing with all the broken stars in its general neighborhood.

According to the researchers, Sagittarius A * produces "chimneys" of X-rays that extend north and south from the disk of the galaxy. The structures are better known as Fermi bubbles, large cavities dug into the gas cloud surrounding the galaxy. The north and south chimneys both start within 160 light years from the black hole, or about 25,000 light-years away. It's almost the distance between Sagittarius A * and Earth.

The black hole of our galaxy is about 4 million times the size of the sun, but other galaxies have much larger central black holes. We can study the Milky Way closely, which could give insight into the functioning of these more energetic galaxies. Understanding how energy travels through chimneys and into the surrounding space could help explain why some regions are enriched in star formation and others relatively sterile.

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