by A. Sutherland
March 26, 2019
from MessageToEagle Website





An X-ray view

of the centre of our Milky Way galaxy,

where the supermassive black hole

Sagittarius A* is hosted.

ESA/XMM-Newton/G. Ponti et al.

2019, Nature.





In the Universe

there are many gigantic objects and phenomena,

of which many we still are unaware of.

Some of them we've

already discovered and observed.


An interesting recent discovery reveals two gigantic 'chimneys' funneling hot X-ray matter flowing out from Sagittarius A*, the Milky Way's supermassive black hole, directly into two huge cosmic bubbles.

First of the giant bubbles (both discovered in 2010 by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope), extends over the plane of the Milky Way; the other below, forms a huge hourglass that stretches for about 50,000 light years - about half the diameter of the entire Galaxy.

The chimneys recently discovered by ESA's XMM-Newton seem to link the immediate surroundings of the black hole and the bubbles together.


Thanks to data delivered by XMM-Newton satellite, researchers created the most extensive X-ray map ever made of the Milky Way's core. Thus, the chimneys, extending for hundreds of light years, were also discovered.


This schematic images shows the scales of and the relationship

between the new-found chimneys and the already known “Fermi Bubbles”

and X-ray lobes at the centre (orange, in the panel to the right).
© ESA/XMM-Newton/G. Ponti et al. 2019

ESA/Gaia/DPAC (Milky Way map



Could these channels be exhaust pipes through which energy and mass are transported from our Galaxy's heart out to the bubbles?

The outflow might be a remnant from our Galaxy's past, when activity was far more powerful and extreme. Now, our galaxy is considered to be 'quiescent' but as XMM-Newton has revealed our Galaxy's core is still quite tumultuous and chaotic.


Dying stars explode violently, throwing their material out into space; binary stars whirl around one another.

We must not forget Sagittarius A*, a black hole as massive as four million Suns, that lurks waiting for incoming material to devour, later belching out radiation and energetic particles as it does so.



More Astronomy News

"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."

Mark Morris, a UCLA professor of astronomy and astrophysics, and a contributor to this research, said that,

"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."