A global group of specialists have found a thick, cold gas that has been darted away from the focal point of the Milky Way “like bullets”.
Precisely how the gas has been launched out is as yet a mystery, yet the exploration group, including Professor Naomi McClure-Griffiths from The Australian National University (ANU), state their discoveries could have significant ramifications for the fate of our galaxy.
“Galaxies can be really good at shooting themselves in the foot,” Professor McClure-Griffiths said.
“When you drive out a lot of mass, you’re losing some of the material that could be used to form stars, and if you lose enough of it, the galaxy can’t form stars at all anymore.
“So, to be able to see hints of the Milky Way losing this star forming gas is kind of exciting—it makes you wonder what’s going to happen next!”
The investigation likewise brings up new issues about what’s going on in our galactic center at this moment.
“The wind at the center of the Milky Way has been the topic of plenty of debate since the discovery a decade ago of the so-called Fermi Bubbles—two giant orbs filled with hot gas and cosmic rays,” Professor McClure-Griffiths said.
“We’ve observed there’s not only hot gas coming from the center of our galaxy, but also cold and very dense gas.
“This cold gas is much heavier, so moves around less easily.”
The center of the Milky Way is home to a huge black hole, yet it’s muddled whether this black hole has removed the gas, or whether it was passed up the a great many gigantic stars at the focal point of the universe.
“We don’t know how either the black hole or the star formation can produce this phenomenon. We’re still looking for the smoking gun, but it gets more complicated the more we learn about it,” lead creator Dr. Enrico Di Teodoro from Johns Hopkins University said.
“This is the first time something like this has been observed in our galaxy. We see these kind of processes happening in other galaxies. But, with external galaxies you get much more massive black holes, star formation activity is higher, it makes it easier for the galaxy to expel material.
“And these other galaxies are obviously a long way away, we can’t see them in a lot of detail.
“Our own galaxy is almost like a laboratory that we can actually get into and try to understand how things work by looking at them up close.”
The research has been distributed in the journal Nature.
The gas was watched utilizing the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) worked by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile.