Astronomers are intrigued by a strange “string” that have seen. It is a thread that is 2.3 light years long snaking around a supermassive black hole that is in the middle of the Milky Way.
Despite Structure Being Found In 2012 Astronomers Have No Idea What It Is
Astronomers originally found the structure in 2012 but a new photograph has now revealed the long line in the dark middle of the galaxy. Looking closer at it has helped astronomers to be able to narrow down possibilities about what it might be but astronomers are still a long way away from having an answer that is solid.
The new image came from a team of researchers and they produced the image thanks to data taken from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory using the Very Large Array and then used an imaging technique that was novel to help them to clean up the photograph.
It Is The Unknown That Makes Science So Thrilling
To the majority of people, the photograph will look like the mouth of hell, and a string of dental floss is stuck to the teeth of the devil. However, astronomers see it as something that is a mystery that is begging to be answered. Astronomer Jun-Hui Zhao of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre of Astrophysics in Cambridge said that one part that is thrilling about science is coming across something mysterious that cannot be solved easily.
He went on to say that right now scientists do not have the answer and this is something that is motivating astronomers when it comes to building the next-gen radio telescope, which we can expect to see arrive with technology that is cutting edge.
Coming across long streams of gas or lines of particles that glow in space really is not all that unusual. Structures such as this are called non-thermal radio filament, and they have been seen before in the middle of the galaxy. Many of them are very long but where they came from remains a mystery to astronomers.
In the past, it had been thought that perhaps the structures were related to the magnetic fields of the Milky Way. However, as more of the filaments were found flowing in directions that were odd, this supposition was discarded.
Many Possible Explanations For The String
What is strange about this particular structure is that it looks as though it is tickling Sagittarius A event horizon. This is the huge black hole that is 4 million times the weight of the Sun and sits in the middle of the galaxy. This has brought about some possible explanations that are intriguing to astronomers about why big queues of particles beam light in the radio wave of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Of course, one explanation is that it might just look as though the string is connected to the black hole. It could be nothing more than the equivalent of a hair being laid across the lens of a camera. Astronomers have said that this is something that would be very unlikely.
One of the most well-liked suggestions has been that it is made up of particles that have come from Sgr A. Swirls of particles could have been pulled down into the black hole and this might create a magnetic field that is very strong and it could become a particle accelerator. If particles have been charged at speeds that are ridiculous this could explain away the glowing thin stream.
Another possibility is that the structure might be a cosmic string, but this is less likely but a possibility, as it is a hypothetical object. Cosmic strings are said to be huge one-dimensional topological defect able to form in different vacuum parts when space expands. Essentially they are seen as cracks in space that come about when the Universe stretches.
At the moment astronomers are still gathering evidence that would rule out these hypotheses.
If it proves to be particles that come from Sgr A astronomers would learn more about magnetic fields in a zone that is highly chaotic. Seeing a cosmic string is a discovery that is profound and it is one that tells astronomers a great deal about the nature of the Universe and even its origins.
Miller Goss from the NRAO said that they will keep on hunting until they find an explanation that is solid for the structure and they want to take images that reveal even more in the near future.