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NASA Chandra has noticed a venting near the center of the galaxy.

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The images provide compelling evidence of an exhaust vent connected to a chimney, releasing hot gas from the vicinity of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. Combining X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio observations from the MeerKAT telescope reveals a “chimney” structure previously identified using X-ray data. The radio emission detected by MeerKAT illustrates the influence of magnetic fields surrounding the gas within the chimney. 


Inset Chandra data highlights several X-ray ridges, resembling walls of a cylindrical tunnel, believed to guide hot gas upwards along the chimney away from the Galactic Center. A labeled version identifies key features, including the exhaust vent, chimney, Sagittarius A* (the supermassive black hole), and the galactic plane. This discovery sheds light on the dynamics of gas flow near the center of our galaxy.


Region Near the Milky Way’s Galactic Center (Labeled).


 

The recently discovered vent sits approximately 700 light-years from the Galactic Center, situated near the top of the chimney structure. To accentuate the chimney and vent characteristics, the image has been rotated 180 degrees from the conventional orientation. The authors propose that the vent formed as rising hot gas collided with cooler gas, generating shock waves akin to sonic booms. The brightness of the vent walls in X-rays is attributed to these shock waves, with the left side appearing particularly luminous due to the gas striking the tunnel wall more directly. 


The hot gas likely originates from material falling towards Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole, with subsequent eruptions propelling it upwards through the chimneys and out via the exhaust vent. The frequency of material accretion onto Sgr A* remains uncertain, although periodic X-ray flares and the swallowing of stars by the black hole every few 20,000 years could contribute significantly to driving hot gas through the vent.


The findings are detailed in a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, with a preprint available online. The paper’s authors include Scott Mackey from the University of Chicago, Mark Morris from the University of California, Los Angeles, Gabriele Ponti, Konstantina Anastasopoulou, and Samaresh Mondal from the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics. The Chandra program is overseen by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center managing science operations from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

NASA Chandra has noticed a venting near the center of the galaxy.

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