Astronomy professor Doug Finkbeiner, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, speculated recently that the 25,000 light-year long gamma rays emissions north and south of the Milky Way’s core might in fact be caused by an actively feeding supermassive black hole.
The energy produced by the “enormous energetic event in the center of our galaxy” is measured at around that of a hundred thousand exploding stars, causing speculation that either an outbreak of supernovae or a massive black hole were the likely culprits.
Professor Finkbeiner theorized that the known but usually dormant] black hole at the our galaxy’s core is presently actively feeding and spewing high-energy jets of gamma rays emissions from its poles. The enormous bubble structures currently witnessed are consistent with a black hole belch. which has been observed in other active galactic nuclei. It is, however, the first time it has been observed at the center our our own Milky Way.
“So you have to ask, where could energy like that come from in the Milky Way?…So [the gamma-ray bubbles] might be the first evidence for a major outburst from the black hole at the center of the galaxy,” Finkbeiner commented.
The observations were made using data collected from the ultra sensitive gamma-ray detecting Fermi’s Large Area Telescope. In the meantime, Professor Doug Finkbeiner and his team will continue with their research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“But it is a striking image,” Finkbeiner pondered, “and I think one that will be challenging astronomers over the coming years to do both future observational work and theoretical work to understand what’s going on here and to make connections to other areas of galactic and extragalactic astronomy.”