A new panoramic X-ray view of above and below the centre of the Milky Way galaxy has been developed using NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory and the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa. This new view of the galactic centre of our home galaxy builds on Chandra’s previous X-ray observations, stitching together 307 different views. The featured image shows different bands of X-rays in orange, green, and purple, combined with radio data in gray. Check out the video to see all the different images.
In particular, scientists found one view very interesting because it has X-ray and radio emissions intertwined, perpendicular to the galaxy and about 20-light-years long. This has been named G0.17-0.41. Accoriding to a new study by Q. Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the features are bound together by thin strips of magnetic fields. The magnetic fields may have aligned in different directions, collided and twisted in what is known as magnetic reconnection (which may play a major role in heating the gas between stars, accelarating particles to produce cosmic rays, and creating turbulance in the interstellar medium resulting in birth of new stars) to form these strips. The strips or threads are located at the edge of the hot plumes of gas indicating that the gas in the plumes is triggering magnetic fields to collide (into magenetic reconnection), and create the threads.
The paper also reveals in much greater detail, large plumes of hot gas, which extend for about 700 light years above and below the plane of the galaxy. According to the Chandra website, “The gas is likely heated by supernova explosions and many recent magnetic reconnections occurring near the center of the galaxy. Such reconnection events in the Galaxy are normally not sufficiently energetic to be detected in X-rays, except for the most energetic ones at the center of the Galaxy, where the interstellar magnetic field is much stronger.”
Source and credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang; Radio: NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT