Milky Way sends out cataclysmic beam 3.5M years ago

Animated graphic cones of ionized radiation moving outward on both sides of the Milky Way's center

Not long ago, centre of Milky Way exploded

The flare, called a Seyfert flare, started out small near the center of the galaxy that's dominated by a supermassive black hole.

Astronomers said today (October 6, 2019) that they've uncovered evidence for a titanic, expanding beam of energy that sprang from close to the supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy, just 3.5 million years ago.

In galactic terms, that is astonishingly recent explained the team at the research centre ASTRO 3-D.

Bottom line: Researchers have found evidence of a cataclysmic flare that punched outward in both directions from our galaxy's center, reaching so far into intergalactic space that its impact was felt 200,000 light-years away.

On Earth at that time, the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was already 63million years in the past.

Lisa Kewley, director of Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) - a project involving worldwide astronomers studying the mysteries of the universe, said: "A massive blast of energy and radiation came right out of the galactic centre and into the surrounding material". Even earlier this year, Sgr A* was caught having an unusually large meal of gas and dust.

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

"A massive blast of energy and radiation came right out of the galactic centre and into the surrounding material".

The discovery that the Milky Way's centre was more dynamic than previously thought can lead to a complete reinterpretation of its evolution. How black holes evolve, influence and interact with galaxies, they conclude, "is an outstanding problem in astrophysics". It is lucky we're not residing there'. Compared to our sun, the black hole is 4.2 million times more massive.

Among the numerous celestial bodies in space, black holes are one of the most interesting.

According to researchers investigating data from the Hubble Space Telescope, these flares may have lasted 300,000 years. Researchers believe it was nuclear activity connected to the black hole.

Joss Bland-Hawthorn of the University of Sydney and one of the co-authors of the latest study, said that the flare from the blast was powerful enough to illuminate the galaxy.

Magda Guglielmo from the University of Sydney, who co-authored the study, argued the research has "dramatically changed" astronomers' perception of the Milky Way.

The general consensus among scientists is that the Milky Way has always been a relatively inactive galaxy with a dim center.

By definition, they can not be seen in the conventional sense, making them hard to study.

'The flare event that occurred 3.5 million years ago was so powerful it had consequences on the surrounding of our galaxy. Their presence is inferred from radiation emitted as gas and debris swirl around them. "We are the witness to the awakening of the sleeping beauty", she said.

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