Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

6 million-year-old gas bubble eminating from Milky Way center
by Brooks Hays
Boston (UPI) Aug 29, 2016

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Today, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is rather quiet. New research suggests its relative dormancy is recent.

According to a new study published this week in the Astrophysical Journal, the Milky Way's black hole marked its transition to hibernation with a bang some 6 million years ago. The ripples of the high-energy shockwaves expelled by the explosion can still be seen today.

Scientists with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics found evidence of the shockwaves while looking for the Milky Way's missing matter.

Some five-sixths of the galaxy is made of up dark matter. The rest is normal matter -- gas, stars, dust. But when astronomers add up all visible matter in the Milky Way, there's less than there should be. Between 85 and 235 billion solar masses worth of material is missing.

Researchers believe that missing material exists as a thin shroud of gas spread throughout the galaxy.

"We played a cosmic game of hide-and-seek. And we asked ourselves, where could the missing mass be hiding?" scientist Fabrizio Nicastro, a research associate at CfA and an astrophysicist at the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics, explained in a news release. "We analyzed archival X-ray observations from the XMM-Newton spacecraft and found that the missing mass is in the form of a million-degree gaseous fog permeating our galaxy. That fog absorbs X-rays from more distant background sources."

By measuring the background X-rays absorbed by the fog, researchers were able to measure the amount and distribution of the gas throughout the Milky Way.

Their findings suggest the gas was blown outward by an explosion emanating from the quasar at the center of the Milky Way 6 million years ago. The shockwaves created an expanding bubble of gasless space, leaving the supermassive black hole without fresh gas to eat.

A collection of 6 million-year-old stars at the center of the galaxy corroborate the timeline, as the stars formed from the material that once fed the hungry black hole.

"The different lines of evidence all tie together very well," concluded Smithsonian scientists and study co-author Martin Elvis.

While the gas bubble doesn't completely solve the mystery of the Milky Way's missing mass, it moves astronomers closer to understanding the galaxy's unique composition.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Young Heavyweight Star Identified in the Milky Way
Cambridge UK (SPX) Aug 24, 2016
Astronomers have identified a young star, located almost 11,000 light-years away, which could help us understand how the most massive stars in the universe are formed. This young star, already more than 30 times the mass of our Sun, is still in the process of gathering material from its parent molecular cloud, and may be even more massive when it finally reaches adulthood. The researchers, ... read more

Russian Carrier Rocket for Sea Launches Will Replace Ukraine's Zenit

SpaceX's Dragon cargo ship splashes down in Pacific

Intelsat "doubles down" with Arianespace for an Ariane 5 dual success

Kourou busy with upcoming Arianespace missions

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Mars 2020 Rover Mission

Year-long simulation of humans living on Mars ends in Hawaii

Boredom was hardest part of yearlong dome isolation

Test for damp ground at Mars' seasonal streaks finds none

Space tourists eye $150mln Soyuz lunar flyby

Roscosmos to spend $7.5Mln studying issues of manned lunar missions

Lockheed Martin, NASA Ink Deal for SkyFire Infrared Lunar Discovery Satellite

As dry as the moon

Pluto Flyby - A Year Later

Scientists attempt to explain Neptune atmosphere's wobble

New Distant Dwarf Planet Beyond Neptune

Researchers discover distant dwarf planet beyond Neptune

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

A new Goldilocks for habitable planets

Venus-like Exoplanet Might Have Oxygen Atmosphere, but Not Life

Brown dwarfs reveal exoplanets' secrets

Russia to spend big upgrading rocket engine reliability

Russia to design super-heavy carrier rocket

NASA to hold Industry Day to discuss Universal Stage Adapter

First results show success for second NASA SLS booster test

China Sends Country's Largest Carrier Rocket to Launch Base

China unveils Mars probe, rover for ambitious 2020 mission

China Ends Preparatory Work on Long March 5 Next-Generation Rocket Engine

China launches hi-res SAR imaging satellite

Rosetta Captures Comet Outburst

From Solo Cup to an asteroid: NASA's newest space mission

NASA prepares to launch first US asteroid sample return mission

NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission Completes Design Milestone

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement