Science

The center of the Milky Way exploded 3.5 million years ago

The center of the Milky Way exploded 3.5 million years ago”

A new study conducted by a team of astronomers has revealed that a giant explosion happened in the center of Milky Way around 3.5 million years ago.

The Seyfert flare created two enormous ionization cones that sliced through the galaxy initially with a small cut close to Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way and then expanding vastly as they exited the galaxy.

"This is a dramatic event that happened a few million years ago in the Milky Way's history", added Professor Lisa Kewley, Director of ASTRO 3D.

Our Milky Way galaxy does look quite peaceful most of the time, but recent, but in recent past, it has some other stories behind this. EarthSky contextualized it nicely by noting that, when this flare occurred, dinosaurs had already been extinct for well over 63 million years.

We're lucky, mostly. The huge flare seems to have exploded "up and down" from the galactic plane, rather than across the galaxy.

What is the Magellanic Stream?

The blast was so powerful that it even altered the Magellanic Stream, a trail of gas that stretches for 200,000 light-years from a pair of neighboring dwarf galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, to the outer edge of the Milky Way.

According to scientists, a massive expanding beam of energy originated close to the supermassive black home in the center of the Milky Way and sent a cone-shaped burst of radiation through both poles of the galaxy, out into deep space.

Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole in the heart of our galaxy, the hub around which the Milky Way turns. The duration of the blast was approximately 300,000 years - again, a short period in the grand scheme of things.

One of the study's co-authors, Magda Guglielmo from the University of Sydney, said the findings "dramatically change our understanding of the Milky Way", leading researchers to believe that the Milky Way is an active galaxy, not an inactive one.

They think it was caused by nuclear activity in the very big black hole, known as Sagittarius A. These new results instead open the possibility of a complete reinterpretation of its evolution and nature'. The flare event that occurred three million years ago was so powerful that it had consequences on the surrounding of our Galaxy. "We are the witness to the awakening of the sleeping beauty", she said. And although Sagittarius A remains the prime suspect, more research is needed.



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