For decades, astrophysicists have been studying the Milky Way to understand its nature. One of these astrophysicists is Farhad Yusef-Zadeh. But unlike most astrophysicists, Yusef-Zadeh focused on studying the strange filament-like structures at the heart of our home galaxy since 1984. Astrophysicists discovered that these huge cosmic filaments originate from the Sagittarius A*, a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. In a recent study, scientists made a more fascinating discovery about these massive filaments.
What the Scientists discovered about Mysterious Cosmic Filaments at the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy
After studying these strange cosmic filaments for nearly four decades, Yusef-Zadeh and his colleagues began to understand the nature of the existence of these strange bodies even better. While analyzing these monster cosmic filaments, the team of scientists discovered a new population of them. The researchers were fascinated by this discovery as they have not seen anything like this in the past.
“It was a surprise to suddenly find a new population of structures that seem to be pointing in the direction of the black hole,” said Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University in a statement.
While conducting research in 1984, astrophysicist Yusef-Zadeh spotted a long, one-dimensional filament moving vertically close to our galactic center. However, the new discovery involves a filament population that looks shorter and spreads out horizontally from the Sagittarius A*. The researchers also discovered that Vertical filaments can reach up to 150 light-years in height. However, horizontal filaments look like what researchers described as “dots and dashes of Morse code.”
How Astronomers Were Able to Discover the New Population of Massive Cosmic Filaments
Technological advancement often makes it possible for astronomers to come up with newer discoveries. The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (SARAO) MeerKAT Telescope is used to discover the new population of cosmic filament. This powerful telescope has advanced radio astronomy capabilities because of its sophisticated features. The scientists were studying the previously discovered vertical filaments when they spot a new population of filaments in the data.
“We found that these filaments are not random but appear to be tied to the outflow of our black hole. By studying them, we could learn more about the black hole’s spin and accretion disk orientation. It is satisfying when one finds order in a middle of a chaotic field of the nucleus of our galaxy,” added Yusef-Zadeh.
The researchers estimate that the newly discovered massive cosmic filaments might be about 6 million years old. However, they still need to conduct further studies to learn more about the cosmic filament.
The Unique Difference Between The First Discovered Filament Population With the Latest Spotted New Population
The scientists were astonished by the unique difference between the two filament populations. Firstly, the first population was seen to be vertical while the latter appears horizontal to the galactic plane. The researchers discovered that horizontal filaments produce thermal radiation while vertical filaments have magnetizing features. The vertical filaments extend to about 150 light-years while the horizontal extends to only 5 to 10 light-years in length.
The Vertical accelerates particles near the speed of light. However, the Horizontal accelerates thermal materials following a molecular cloud. Unlike the horizontal filaments that extend their threads only to one side pointing towards the Sagittarius A*, the vertical filaments wrap around the galaxy’s nucleus with their threads.
The team of scientists revealed that there are still several unidentified uniqueness between the two populations. However, they believed to advance the research in the future.
“We think they must have originated with some kind of outflow from an activity that happened a few million years ago. It seems to be the result of an interaction of that outflowing material with objects near it,” said Yusef-Zadeh. “Our work is never complete. We always need to make new observations and continually challenge our ideas and tighten up our analysis,” Yusef-Zadeh concluded.
The research results of this study have been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Scientific discoveries like this often pave the way for new astronomical knowledge. However, astronomers are hopeful to learn more about the cosmic filaments in future studies. What do you think about this fascinating study?