Black hole at Milky Way's centre belched huge bubbles after a 'feeding frenzy'
Astronomers have discovered a pair of huge and mysterious mega-bubbles at the core of humanity’s home galaxy.
The hourglass-shaped structures are among the largest features ever discovered in the Milky Way.
They are believed to have been formed by a ‘phenomenally energetic burst that erupted near the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole a few million years ago’.
Like many other galaxies, a huge dark behemoth sits at the core of the Milky Way.
Our very own beast is called Sagittarius A*.
It probably spewed the bubbles during a ‘feeding frenzy’.
‘The centre of our galaxy is relatively calm when compared to other galaxies with very active central black holes,’ said Ian Heywood of the University of Oxford and lead author of an article appearing in the journal Nature.
‘Even so, the Milky Way’s central black hole can – from time to time – become uncharacteristically active, flaring up as it periodically devours massive clumps of dust and gas.
‘It’s possible that one such feeding frenzy triggered powerful outbursts that inflated this previously unseen feature.’
The twin bubbles at the Milky Way’s core probably came into being during a ‘violent eruption’
‘The shape and symmetry of what we have observed strongly suggests that a staggeringly powerful event happened a few million years ago very near our galaxy’s central black hole,’ said William Cotton, an astronomer with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, and co-author on the paper.
‘This eruption was possibly triggered by vast amounts of interstellar gas falling in on the black hole, or a massive burst of star formation which sent shockwaves careening through the galactic centre.
‘In effect, this inflated bubbles in the hot, ionized gas near the galactic centre, energizing it and generating radio waves that we could eventually detect here on Earth.’
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