Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 76 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
Sci Tech    H3'ed 10/7/19

Our Galaxy Blew its Stack the Day Before Yesterday

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   3 comments, In Series: Daily Inspiration
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Josh Mitteldorf
Become a Fan
  (53 fans)

A black hole at the center of the Milky Way exploded 3.5 million years ago--and may explode again very soon.

Back when I went to school, some time in the middle of the last century, galaxies were thought to be just collections of stars that were attracted to each other and fell into mutual orbits as they coalesced.

It was the need to come up with an explanation for quasars that changed that. Quasars are very, very far away, and yet they manage to be quite bright. That implies enormous amounts of energy. Eventually, we figured out that there was matter falling into giant black holes, each one as massive as a hundred million suns.

Gradually, astronomers came to realize that many if not most galaxies have black holes at the center. The center of our own Milky Way is obscured because to see it we have to look through the thicket of gas and dust that has collected in our galactic disk. But we can see through to the galactic center using x-ray telescopes or radio telescopes, and eventually a consensus formed that our own galaxy hosts a black hole.

(Image by NASA)   Details   DMCA

Most objects in the sky are flattened by spinning. Stuff gets into and out of them most easily in a direction perpendicular to the spinning disk. In 1987, I wrote my dissertation about streams of hot gas that spew out from disant galaxies, and we see these as bright plumes. Paradoxically, the plumes from our own galaxy, so close to home, are harder to see. But now they've been spotted and interpreted.

Live Science article

Ballooning out of both poles of the galactic center, two gargantuan orbs of gas stretch into space for 25,000 light-years apiece (big enough that they would be spread across the night sky, if we could only see ), though it's visible only in ultra powerful X-ray and gamma-ray light. Scientists call these cosmic gas orbs the Fermi bubbles and know that they're a few million years old. " According to a study to be published Oct. 8 in the preprint journal, the Fermi bubbles were created by an epic flare of hot, nuclear energy that shot out of the galaxy's poles roughly 3.5 million years ago, beaming into space for hundreds of thousands of light-years.

If cave men really did see this event, it would have stretched across half the night sky. The research paper estimates the total output at 1056 ergs over 300,000 years. That works out to a plume as bright as the Milky Way, but extending in a perpendicular direction across the sky.

News 1   Interesting 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Josh Mitteldorf Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Josh Mitteldorf, de-platformed senior editor at OpEdNews, blogs on aging at Read how to stay young at
Educated to be an astrophysicist, he has branched out from there (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Twitter Bans The Donald

Cold Fusion: Tangible Hope in an Age of Despair

Artificial Earthquakes

New Scientific Study: Smoking Gun Evidence of 9/11 Explosives in WTC Dust

PayPal cuts off Bradley Manning Legal Defense; Backs Off under Grass Roots Pressure

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend