A Harvard astronomer and his team have turned up something quite big while running publicly available data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and by big we mean both in scientific magnitude and in astronomical size: two massive gamma-ray emitting bubbles extending 25,000 light-years both north and south of the Milky Way's center. The researchers aren't sure where they come from or why they're there, but the discovery of this massive new structure in the heart of our own galaxy is being equated to discovering a new continent on Earth.
Viewed from Earth the structure spans half the sky, but previous examinations of the data – which came from Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT) – didn't reveal the structure because it couldn't bee distinguished from diffuse emission, a fog of gamma rays that appears across the entire sky.
Researchers are constantly looking for new formulas that help them subtract diffuse emission, and the team from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics hit pay dirt. When they removed the gamma-ray fog from their data, the two massive bubbles were left behind. Upon comparing their new findings to other older spacecraft data, they realized that hints of the bubbles' existence were there all along.
The finding asks more questions than it answers – in fact, no one knew there was even a question until the team uncovered the massive structure. The source of the bubbles is mysterious, though it might have something to do with the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Other black holes have been seen emitting gamma ray jets from their centers, and while the Milky Way's core doesn't show evidence of a particle jet, there may have been one in the past that created the bubbles.
They could also be the result of huge bursts of gas resulting from the explosions of stellar formation that created the star clusters close to the galaxy's center millions of years ago. The gamma-ray bubbles could be millions of years old as well. Whatever they are, they're a reminder that no matter how much we think we know about the universe, there's plenty to learn right here in our own galactic neighborhood.
I knew it! We're living in a pogo ball! Okay no, I didn't really know that.
Barney laid eggs. ... Or ... Spencer's is havin' a sale.
... looks like electron orbital cloud/lobes.
Does this remind anyone of electron cloud formations?
Who else finds it frustrating that NASA is searching for life all over and wherever they can but THEY DON"T SEEM TO TRY AT ALL TO PROTECT OTHER FORMS OF LIFE HERE ON EARTH!!
Milky Way is a flying pan in the Universe. Huge energy emission keeps Milky Way, Solar System and Earth hovering.
I think you're kinda missing the point of NASA.
@Mikhailian, NASA is responsible for fixing random problems pulled out of a top hat, right? I really hope they finish with their current space stuff so that they can finally fix unfair refereeing in the NBA. It is a pet peeve of mine.
V3RTIGO - it sure does!
It also reminds me of the ol magnet/iron filings experiment.
...new discovery, that's rEALLy old, lol gotta love the science of space!
It shouldn't come to anyone's surprise that around a super-massive black hole in the center of a galaxy.. there's something around it, should it?
Would it be surprising to find, oooh let's say, EARTH waaay out from it?.. juust wondering!
@javor jav um... yeah... epic fail on that one buddy. Lets try this from the beginning. NASA. National Aeronautic and Space Administration. Not sure... but no where in that does it say life on earth: MUST PROTECT!!!
@z7u2v yeah that was my first assumption. the thing is we can see millions if not billions of other galaxies. I am pretty sure that we have seen similar massive black holes at the center of those galaxies as well. We should have noticed the same effect as well. I think scientist may be excited becuase this could be a very rare phenomenon that we have not noticed in any other galaxy.
Well, there is a super massive black hole in the center of our galaxy as well as many others.
Last I checked, black holes have jets as well as accretion discs.
In this light, I'm surprised it wasn't discovered a lot.
It raises a lot of easy questions that might hold some pretty easy answers now that we'll have a new way of interpreting all data, past and future.
This may be the missing part of the formula. We may be looking at our galaxy's missing mass or dark energy itself.
Or it be nothing helpful at all other than a nice desktop background.
Either way, I can't wait to see pictures of other galaxy's with their bubbles.
I wonder if this has a measurable effect on time itself. It does look like an infinity sign and it is a black hole at the center.
That also makes me think, since we're in an outer arm of the galaxy, isn't time moving faster for us than it is for an alien planet closer to the interior?
We better derive some form of power source based on this...
EDIT: In this light, I'm surprised it wasn't discovered a lot sooner...
It makes so much sense now.
The universe is showing us how to make power.
That brilliant white light at the center is raw fusion power, the bubbles are exhaust.
Everyone is so scared of black holes, but it looks like we have to make one to cement our existence even if only a little while longer...
..and we didn't notice this early?
YES YES YES. Pi electron cloud formations. Fascinating isn't it?
That's not NASA's job.
It looks like a pi bond :3
It looks like a pi bond :3
i don't find it shocking since supermassive blackholes usually release these kind of stuff... It's been already known there's a supermassive blackhole in the heart of our galaxy - Perhaps, in the center of almost every galaxy.
I think a lightbulb just went off in my head...
Theoretically, all matter being consumed by a black hole is not lost but is instead converted into completely pure energy. And gamma rays being the highest energy form of radiation on the EMS, it makes sense. The article says that the black hole at the center of our universe does not seem to be emitting a gamma ray jet, but I strongly suspect that it did in the past and the bubbles are simply the remnants.
Perhaps there is just not much matter remaining near our black hole, so the jet phenomenon is not occuring. Which makes sense, because there would also likely be a quasar surrounding our black hole.
But hey, what do I know? I'm still in high school.
lol @ yeahilikescience... you make me feel dumb.