“An international team of astronomers, including Northwestern’s Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, has discovered one of the largest structures ever observed in the Milky Way. A newly spotted pair of radio-emitting bubbles reach hundreds of light-years tall, dwarfing all other structures in the central region of the galaxy.
The team believes the enormous, hourglass-shaped structure likely is the result of a phenomenally energetic burst that erupted near the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole several million years ago.
“The center 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, first author of study. “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.”
For this work, the team used the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) MeerKAT telescope, the largest science project in Africa. This is the first paper detailing research completed with MeerKAT’s full 64-dish array since its launch in July 2018….”
Read the full Northwestern News article, “Giant balloon-like structures discovered at center of Milky Way” by Amanda Morris.
Image Credit: SARAO/OXFORD/NRAO
Round Up of Media Mentions of CIERA/Northwestern
- Cosmos, “Enormous bubbles discovered near centre of the Milky Way” by Richard A. Lovett
- ScienceDaily, “Towering balloon-like features discovered near center of Milky Way“
- CNN, “Giant balloon structures found at the center of the Milky Way” by Ashley Strickland
- Inverse, “A Pair of Large, Mysterious Radio Bubbles Sits at the Center of Our Galaxy” by Passant Rabie
- IFLScience!, “Large Radio Bubbles Discovered Around The Center Of The Milky Way” by Alfredo Carpineti
- Xinhua, “Giant balloon-like structure discovered at center of Milky Way“
- Science Friday, “The Bubbles At The Center Of The Milky Way” produced and hosted by Christie Taylor and Ira Flatow
- Business Insider, “The black hole at the center of our galaxy just belched two giant bubbles of radiation” by Michelle Starr
- NBC News, “Huge, mysterious ‘bubbles’ discovered at the heart of the Milky Way” by Denise Chow
- New York Daily News, “Mysterious massive bubbles found near immense black hole at center of Milky Way” by Theresa Braine
- The Atlantic, “The Milky Way Has Giant Bubbles at Its Center” by Marina Koren