Black hole in the center of the Milky Way formed a giant chimney

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory, astronomers have discovered something like an exhaust vent or chimney through which hot gas escapes from the center of the Milky Way galaxy. According to scientists, this chimney was created by eruptions from a supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy, known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).

An enlarged version of the image taken by the Chandra X-ray telescope, where the location of the chimney in the center of the Milky Way is noticeable. Source: NASA/CXC/Univ

The center of the Milky Way is located about 26 thousand light-years from Earth. The hole is oriented perpendicular to the spiral disk of the galaxy. Astronomers determined its location using X-ray data from the Chandra and XMM-Newton spacecraft, as well as radio emission recorded by the MeerKAT radio telescope.

The latest Chandra data shows several X-ray ridges resembling the walls of a cylindrical tunnel that directs hot gas upward. The newly found exhaust vent is located about 700 light-years from the center of the galaxy, close to the top of the chimney.

Scientists believe that the exhaust vent was formed after a collision of hot gas with a cooler gas. This collision created shock waves that gave the walls of the vent an X-ray brilliance. The left side of the exhaust vent is probably brighter because the gas hits the tunnel wall at right angles and with greater force. The direction of the chimney and the other X-ray chimney, directed in the opposite side from the center of the galaxy, coincides with the Fermi and eROSITA bubbles. Hot gas moving upwards can concentrate near the outlet, helping to form a bubble structure.

An annotated image showing the location of the chimney. Source: NASA/CXC/Univ

According to the researchers, the hot gas was formed due to the fall of material into the black hole Sagittarius A*, followed by eruptions pushing the gas up a kind of chimney. However, the exact frequency of these eruptions remains unknown.

Earlier, we reported on how a hot gas bubble was found in orbit around a black hole in the center of the Milky Way.

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