Enormous outflows of charged particles from the center of our Galaxy, stretching more than halfway across the sky and moving at supersonic speeds, have been detected and mapped with CSIRO’s 64-m Parkes radio telescope.
Corresponding to the “Fermi Bubbles” found in 2010, the recent observations of the phenomenon were made by a team of astronomers from Australia, the USA, Italy and The Netherlands, with the findings reported in the January 2nd 2013 issue of Nature.
“There is an incredible amount of energy in the outflows,” said co-author Professor Lister-Staveley-Smith from The University of Western Australia node of the International center for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth and Deputy Director of the ARC center of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO).
The source of the energy has been somewhat of a mystery, but we know there is a lot there, about a million times as much energy as a supernova explosion (a dying star).
From top to bottom the outflows extend 50,000 light-years out of the Galactic Plane. That’s equal to half the diameter of our Galaxy (which is 100,000 light-years across). Our solar system is approximately 30,000 light-years from the center of the Milky Way galaxy which is well within the reach of these enormous particle flows. Seen from Earth, but invisible to the human eye, the outflows stretch about two-thirds across the sky from horizon to horizon.
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