Millions of years ago, a powerful explosion erupted in the middle Sweet Way, sending twin double waves exploding across the sky. These waves passed through the galaxy, heating all the gas and dust in their path and leaving behind two beams full of hot, energetic ray rays.
Today, these blobs – now known as the Fermi bubbles – orbits half the width of our galaxy. One lobe rises for 25,000 light-years above the Milky Way disc, and the other an equally large loom below. Since their discovery in 2010, the bubbles have been a monolithic mystery of our galaxy – and now we know they are not alone.
As scientists continue to study our galaxy in every wave of strange, amazing new structures inside Fermi bubbles – from plasma “chimneys” slowly inflating balloons of radio energy – continue to appear. Now, a paper published Dec. 9 in the magazine Nature featuring some of the structures most familiar to Fermi yet: the “eROSITA bubbles.”
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Only visible in X-ray emissions, these new bubbles are much more energetic (and less hot) than Fermi blobs but are almost as gargantuan, measuring around 45,000 light-years from end to end. Like the Fermi bubbles, these orbs of hot gas towers above and below the galactic plane are in the shape of a special hourglass, connected to the galactic center at the point where the two blobs meet.
With their similar shape and common midline, the Fermi and eROSITA bubbles appear to be physically connected, and may have emerged from the same explosion of galactic fireworks millions of years ago. back, the authors wrote in their study. The cause of the bubbles in the first place remains a mystery, but astronomers suspect it is infiltrating. explosive revolution of energy from the central black hole of our galaxy, Sagittarius A *.
That explanation corresponds to the modern X-ray bubbles, the study authors wrote, considering the energy required to insert them. The team estimated that the creation of the equivalent of 100,000 supernovas (powerful stellar explosions) would require an energy distribution to create these structures – a figure equivalent to X-ray energy emissions seen in other galleries with black holes. active at their bases. Even if this hypothetical explosion is millions of years old, its findings would still be visible.
“The divisions left by such turmoil will take a long time to heal,” said study co-author Andrea Merloni, a senior scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Extra-German Physics, said in a statement.
Merloni and his colleagues discovered the X-ray bubbles using the eROSITA X-ray telescope, which orbits the cosmos aboard a Russian-German Spektr-RG satellite. The telescope scans the entire sky every six months, constantly updating our view of the X-ray universe.
First published on Living Science.