About 1,000 mysterious filaments 100 light-years long have been discovered at the center of the Milky Way.

(ORDO NEWS) — Research by astronomers from Northwestern University in Illinois turned out to be so mysterious and large-scale that even a year after the event, it raises more questions than answers.

The fact is that scientists using the new MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa created an unprecedentedly accurate map of the center of our galaxy and discovered strange structures.

In May 2021, scientists combined data from the MeerKAT radio telescope with data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Space Telescope. Thus, astronomers have created a detailed map of the center of our galaxy.

The filaments more or less evenly spaced in the image turned out to be the strangest – probably jets of heated gas up to 150 light-years long in the form of electron streams accelerated to light speeds.

Astronomers have recorded about 1000 threads , but it is difficult to explain their appearance and the essence of the ongoing process. The strands occur in pairs and clusters, which are often evenly spaced, like “strings on a harp”.

About 1 000 mysterious filaments 100 light years long have been discovered at the center of the Milky Way 2                                  Map of the center of our galaxy / Photo by NorthWestern

The study of the mysterious “threads”

The first such formations were discovered in the early 80s of the last century. The new radio telescope has opened a whole Klondike of threads, which allows us to hope for an approach to understanding the phenomenon. Now scientists are studying in detail each of the formations.

For a long time we studied individual threads from the standpoint of a myopic view. Now we finally see the big picture – a panoramic view filled with a lot of threads.

Having studied only a few of them, it is difficult to draw any real conclusion about what they are and where they came from.

This is a watershed moment in deepening our understanding of these structures,” said Farhad Yousef-Zadeh, lead author of the article.

To build images with unprecedented clarity and detail, astronomers spent three years observing the sky and analyzing data at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO).

Using 200 hours of operation with SARAO ‘s MeerKAT telescope , the researchers put together a mosaic of 20 separate observations of different areas of the sky towards the center of the Milky Way galaxy 25,000 light – years from Earth .

About 1 000 mysterious filaments 100 light years long have been discovered at the center of the Milky Way 3                       Photo of a separate “thread” / Photo by NASA / CXC / UMass / QD Wang; Radio:                                                                                           NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT

According to the researchers, it is more likely that the “threads” are associated with the past activity of the central supermassive black hole of the Milky Way, and not with supernova outbursts.

Now scientists define and catalog each “thread”. The angle, curve, magnetic field, spectrum and intensity of each filament will be published in a future study.

Understanding these properties will give the astrophysical community more clues about the mysterious nature of the phenomenon.


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