July 21, 2024
The centre of the Milky Way exploded three million years ago
“The flare event that occurred three million years ago was so powerful that it had consequences on the surrounding of our Galaxy. We are the witness to the awakening of the sleeping beauty.”: Magda Guglielmo
“The flare event that occurred three million years ago was so powerful that it had consequences on the surrounding of our Galaxy. We are the witness to the awakening of the sleeping beauty.”: Magda Guglielmo

A titanic, expanding beam of energy sprang from close to the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way just 3.5 million years ago, sending a cone-shaped burst of radiation through both poles of the Galaxy and out into deep space.

That’s the finding arising from research conducted by a team of scientists led by Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) and soon to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The phenomenon, known as a Seyfert flare, created two enormous ‘ionisation cones’ that sliced through the Milky Way – beginning with a relatively small diameter close to the black hole, and expanding vastly as they exited the Galaxy. So powerful was the flare that it impacted on the Magellanic Stream – a long trail of gas extending from nearby dwarf galaxies called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The Magellanic Stream lies at an average 200,000 light years from the Milky Way.

The explosion was too huge, says the Australian-US research team, to have been triggered by anything other than nuclear activity associated with the black hole, known as Sagittarius A, or Sgr A*, which is about 4.2 million times more massive than the Sun.

“The flare must have been a bit like a lighthouse beam,” says Professor Bland-Hawthorn, who is also at the University of Sydney.

“Imagine darkness, and then someone switches on a lighthouse beacon for a brief period of time.”

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See Also:

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(2) Milky Way robs neighbouring galaxies of gas to hoard chemicals and form new stars and planets 

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(4) Graphene Detectors Bring Terahertz Astronomy to Light

(5) Extreme solar storms may be more frequent than previously thought

(6) Canadian wins 2019 Nobel prize in physics for discovering new understandings of universe

(7) Saturn Is the New Moon King

(8) We Now Have a Good Idea When Martian Oceans Started Dying

(9) Ice discovered in fresh moon craters for first time suggesting water is appearing on lunar surface

(10) NASA reveals its most sophisticated space suit yet that its astronauts will wear on moon mission in five years

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