The Milky Way’s giant gas bubbles were seen in visible light for the first time

Monday, June 8, 2020 - 07:10 in Astronomy & Space

Mysterious cosmic bubbles are being seen in a new light. For the first time, scientists have observed visible light from the Fermi bubbles, enormous blobs of gas that sandwich the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. The newly spotted glow was emitted by hydrogen gas that was electrically charged, or ionized, within the bubbles. Astronomer Dhanesh Krishnarao of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and colleagues described the finding June 3 in a news conference at the American Astronomical Society virtual meeting and in a paper posted at on May 29. Originally observed in 2010, the bubbles spew high-energy light known as gamma rays. The towering structures, each 25,000 light-years tall, are thought to be relics of an ancient outburst of gas from the galaxy’s center (SN: 11/9/10). But scientists don’t know the source. The outflow could have been the result of the black hole at the center of the galaxy messily gobbling up matter, or emissions caused by bursts of stars forming. Within the...

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