Milky Way sends out cataclysmic beam 3.5 mln years ago

James Marshall
October 7, 2019

The phenomenon, known as a Seyfert flare, created two enormous "ionization cones" that sliced through the Milky Way - beginning with a relatively small diameter close to the black hole, and expanding vastly as they exited the Galaxy.

Astronomers said today (October 6, 2019) that they've uncovered evidence for a titanic, expanding beam of energy that sprang from close to the supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy, just 3.5 million years ago. This is very recent in galactic terms given that large-scale astrophysical processes involving stars and black holes often play out over hundreds of millions of years.

Researchers find evidence of a cataclysmic flare that punched so far out of the galaxy its impact was felt 200,000 light years away.

. Think of an eternal darkness, and then suddenly someone lights the lighthouse for a while, "said the team's professor, working at the Australian ARC All-Inclusive Center for Precision (ASTRO 3D)".

According to scientists, 3.5 billion years ago, a huge mass black hole in the Milky Way galaxy exploded and disappeared.

This is a dramatic event that happened a few million years ago in the Milky Way's history.

Sagittarius A* or Sgr A* is the monstrous black hole located at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy.

'A massive blast of energy and radiation came right out of the galactic centre and into the surrounding material.

"This shows that the centre of the Milky Way is a much more dynamic place than we had previously thought. It's lucky we're not residing there".

The black hole, which disappeared with the flare coming into the shape of a cone, scattered in space. Compared to our sun, the black hole is 4.2 million times more massive.

By analyzing the data collected by NASA and the European Space Agency's Hubble Space Telescope, the scientist concluded that the explosion originated from Milky Way's supermassive black hole, known as Sagittarius A*.

Researchers estimate that the blast lasted for perhaps 300,000 years, a long time in human terms, but an extremely short time as measured on the scale of galaxies.

The paper follows research reported by the same team in 2013 that first suggested SgrA* has sporadically burst into life.

"These results dramatically change our understanding of the Milky Way", said Magda Guglielmo, study co-author from the University of Sydney.

The radiation shot out from both ends of the black hole's poles, cutting through the Milky Way and broadening away from the tip.

By definition, they can not be seen in the conventional sense, making them hard to study.

The general consensus among scientists is that the Milky Way has always been a relatively inactive galaxy with a dim center.

For example, gases swirl around them at almost the speed of light, giving off lots of high energy radiation.

Initially, it was believed that the event took place between 1 and 3 million years ago. We are the witness to the awakening of the sleeping beauty'.

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