The ESA has announced that its XMM-Newton instrument has discovered a pair of gigantic “chimneys” that are funneling material from the vicinity of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way into a pair of massive cosmic bubbles. The NASA Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope first discovered those giant bubbles in 2010. One of the giant bubbles stretches above the plane of the Milky Way, and the other extends below.
The two bubbles form a gigantic hourglass of sorts that spans 50,000 light years. 50,000 light years is around half the diameter of the entire Milky Way galaxy. The new ESA discovery shows that there is a pair of channels emitting hot X-rays from Sagittarius A*, which is the central black hole of the galaxy.
This discovery links the immediate surroundings of the black hole and the bubbles together. Scientist Gabriele Ponti says that the outflows and wind of material and energy coming from a galaxy are crucial to changing its shape over time.
Data collected was used to create a sort of map of the chimneys. The map revealed long channels of super-heated gas each extending hundreds of light years above and below the plane of the Milky Way. Scientists believe that these channels are a sort of exhaust pipe system that allows energy and mass to be transported from the center of the Galaxy out to the base of the bubbles to give them new material.
Researchers say that the outflow might be a remnant from the galaxy’s past when activity was more prevalent and powerful than it is today. Since our galaxy is considered the prototype for standard spiral galaxies, this discovery could help shed light on how all typical spiral galaxies behave.