In the center of the Milky Way, they discover nearly a thousand threads up to 150 light-years long suspended incomprehensiblely in space.


27 ene 2022 19:56 GMT

By assembling a mosaic of 20 separate observations from the Meerkat telescope, a team of astronomers has been able to create a picture of the center of our galaxy with unprecedented clarity and detail, revealing the “leads”.

A new image of the Milky Way’s center has revealed nearly a thousand one-dimensional filaments (or filaments) inexplicably dangling in space. with It is 150 light-years longthese “strings” are found in pairs and groups, often stacked at equal distances, one next to the other, like the strings of a harp, according to a group of scientists in a study, published This Wednesday on arXiv’s preprint service accepted by The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Using observations at radio wavelengths, Farhad Yousefzadeh, a professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University, discovered highly organized magnetic filaments in the early 1980s. Made up of electrons from cosmic rays It rotates in a magnetic field at a speed close to the speed of light. However, its origin has remained an unsolved mystery since then.

Now, the highlight is the new image, captured by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) MeerKAT telescope. 10 times more leads than previously detectedwhich allowed scientists to conduct statistical studies on a large number of threads for the first time.

“We have long studied single strands with a myopic look,” claimed Youssefzadeh, lead author of the study. Finally we see the whole picture: Panoramic view full of abundant threads. Just examining a few leads makes it difficult to draw any real conclusions about what they are and where they came from. This represents a turning point in the development of our understanding of these structures.”

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How was the image created?

To build the image with unprecedented clarity and detail, astronomers He spent three years studying the sky and analyzing data from SARAO. Using a 200-hour clock with the MeerKAT telescope, the researchers placed a mosaic of 20 separate observations of different parts of the sky toward the center of the Milky Way, 25,000 light-years from Earth. “I spent a lot of time looking at this image while working, and never got tired of it,” said Ian Heywood, an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford in the UK and co-author of the study.

To see the leads at a finer scale, Yousafzadeh’s team used a technique to remove the background from the main image in order to isolate these “filaments” from the surrounding structures. “It’s like modern art“These images are very beautiful and rich, and their mystery makes them even more interesting,” said the researcher, adding that “these images are very beautiful and rich.”

What do you know about threads?

Researchers believe the threads are more likely to be linked Previous activity of a black hole The Milky Way’s central supermass is more than coordinated supernova explosions. The leads can also be attached to huge radio emission bubbles, which Yousefzadeh and his collaborators discovered in 2019.

Scientists have said that the mysterious 1,000-light-year-old bubble that surrounds Earth is the origin of all the young stars nearby.

Among the remaining mysteries, researchers are particularly puzzled by the structure of the filaments. The filaments within the clusters are separated from each other at exactly equal distances, roughly the distance from the Earth to the Sun.”We still don’t know why they come in groups or how they separate, and we do not know how these regular distances are produced. Every time we answer one question several more questions come up,” Youssefzadeh said.

Moreover, it is not known whether the filaments move or change over time or what causes the electrons to accelerate to such dizzying speeds. “How do electrons accelerate to approach the speed of light?” he asked. “One idea is that there are some sources at the end of these filaments that are accelerating these particles.”

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