It is startling to learn that somehow in the not terribly distant past our Milky Way's black hole heart belched symmetrical and giant bubbles of gamma-ray emitting energy in both directions from its plane. Your tracker says this having just written recently a story (here, fyi) on our Milky Way's supermassive black hole and learning that as such things go, we see it today almost moribund, merely nibbling small streams of gas with occasional lumps, but not emitting much radiation at all.
That image is not a picture, but is a data-inspired artist's impression of what we're talking about. Whatever it did, it was exuberant. The news is from astronomers using NASA's orbiting, Fermi gamma ray telescope, and reported formally in The Astrophysical Journal.
- LA Times - Thomas H. Maugh II: Huge gamma-ray bubbles found extending from Milky Way ; One can't, one must say, have static bubbles of gamma rays. They move at the speed of light. So just for quibbling's sake, the bubbles are of something that is emitting gamma rays (and X-rays too, nearer the bubbles' roots). Maugh's story is sound - pointing out that the mystery does not exclude something other than the big black hole as the source of this exudate (like, maybe, near-simultaneous birth of nyriad gigantic, radiation-spewing stars near the galactic core some time back.
- NYTimes - Dennis Overbye: Bubbles of Energy Are Found in Galaxy ; Overbye's story uses the same language as in that hed: "bubbles of energy." That does not compute for me. He does exclude dark matter as the source, but does not give much example of what else it could be aside from "a buzz of high energy particles." How those, too, make gamma and x-rays similarly is not hinted at. I mean, some kind of matter is buzzing around, maybe curling in electric fields, maybe caroming off itself, but... boy I need more info, speculative as it may be.
- ScienceNews - Ron Cowen: Milky Way's black hole may blow bubbles . Astronomers discover gamma ray-emitting blobs above and below the galaxy's center ; This is more like it. It's hot ionized gas, he said, each blob the size of a small galaxy. A mystery, but this is better than calling them bubbles of gamma rays, or of energy. Pretty good job saying a lot about something that mainly offers questions.
- Space.com - Mike Wall: Bubbles at Milky Way's heart may be black hole eruptions /Two gigantic bubbles of high-energy radiation are spilling from the galactic center ; This is at MSNBC, so one does not know whether space.com wrote the hed. But one ought not use the same word, "bubbles," in both hed and deck. More important, calling them bubbles of radiation badly misuses most readers, who cannot be expected to see through it and envision, however roughly, the physics. These are not bubbles of radiation, they are bubbles of something that glows. Our Moon is not a bubble of grayness, the sun a bubble of hot whiteness.
- Wired News - Dave Mosher - Galactic Core Spews Weird Radiation Bubbles ; <sigh> ....
- USA Today - Dan Vergano: NASA unveils giant gamma ray bubbles cap galaxy ; Hmm. I think I am outnumbered on the question of whether a color is the thing itself ;
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Mark Johnson: Astronomers detect previously unseen structure in the Milky Way ; Thank you Mr. Johnson. Could be more dramatic, but that hed says it well. The article is a mere brief, however.
- Discovery News: Irene Klotz: Giant Bubbles Found in Space ;
Grist for the Mill: NASA Press Release ;
- Charlie Petit