Mystery Gas Discovered That’s Been Shot Out From the Center of the Milky Way “Like Bullets”

ANIMATION

An international team of researchers has discovered a dense, cold gas that’s been shot out from the center of the Milky Way “like bullets.”

Exactly how the gas has been ejected is still a mystery, but the research team, including Professor Naomi McClure-Griffiths from The Australian National University (ANU), say their findings could have important implications for the future 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 study also raises new questions about what’s happening in our galactic center right now.

“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 massive black hole, but it’s unclear whether this black hole has expelled the gas, or whether it was blown by the thousands of massive stars at the center of the galaxy.

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