Two mysterious bubbles near the center of the Milky Way: scientists have solved a long-standing galactic mystery
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Astronomers have spent 10 years trying to figure out what is creating the strange glowing blob inside one of the huge gamma-ray regions near the center of our galaxy. And now the answer is here.
Back in 2010, astronomers using the Fermi Space Telescope discovered two unusual spheres that are in contact with the center of the Milky Way and form a “figure eight” perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy. They are called Fermi Bubbles. Each of these spheres, as seen from Earth, is “north” and “south” of the center of the galaxy and extends over a distance of 25,000 light-years. Scientists have concluded that these are areas of huge gamma radiation, but its exact source has not been determined. In 2012, scientists discovered a luminous drop inside one of these spheres and also could not understand what is the source of its appearance. But a new study suggests that the gamma radiation that creates this blob comes from an unusual type of star in a nearby galaxy, writes Space.
The new study was presented by Roland Crocker and colleagues at the Australian National University. Scientists believe that this luminous blob appeared as a result of gamma radiation, which is released by very rapidly rotating stars – millisecond pulsars. They are located in the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, which is a satellite of the Milky Way.
Gamma rays are particles of light that have an energy that is millions of times greater than that of visible light. Such gamma radiation can, for example, be detected by the Fermi Space Telescope, which has been in space for 14 years. It was with its help that astronomers discovered two giant regions of gamma radiation, which were called the Fermi Bubbles.
So far, scientists believe that the main source of these bubbles is the radiation that comes out of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which is 4 million times heavier than the Sun. But, if in one bubble a connection with radiation from a black hole was found, then in another bubble such a connection has not yet been found. Despite the fact that both spheres look very strange, in 2012 scientists discovered in one of them an elongated bright spot or a luminous drop that was not in the other sphere.
“We believe that this structure is not connected neither with the Fermi Bubbles, nor with the black hole at the center of our galaxy.We believe that the source of this blob is the gamma radiation that comes out of the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, which lies behind the “southern” bubble as viewed from Earth “, says Crocker.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that millisecond pulsars are the source of this gamma radiation. These are very small neutron stars (about 20 km in diameter) that are mostly found in binary star systems. Despite their size, they are very heavy and much heavier than the Sun. These pulsars rotate at very high speeds – up to hundreds of times per second.
Due to their rapid rotation and strong magnetic field, these neutron stars act as natural particle accelerators. That is, they launch particles with very high energy into space, which form gamma rays.
As Focus already wrote, according to a recent study, the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy is also responsible for the strange behavior of stars in our galaxy.
Another important recent discovery, which Focus wrote about, was the discovery of the substance that was left from one of the very first stars, around a distant quasar.