“Soap Bubble” at Milky Way Center

Scientists have discovered gigantic bubble-like structures 25,000 light-years tall ballooning above and below the Milky Way.

Within each curved “bubble”, extremely energetic electrons of unknown origin interact with lower-energy light to generate the gamma rays that define these bubbles. The galactic-scale structures could be remnants from a burst of star formation or leftovers from an eruption by the supermassive black hole at our galaxy’s center. Scientists aren’t sure yet, but the more they learn about this amazing structure, which may be only a few million years old, the better we’ll understand the Milky Way.

While not immediately visible to NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, these unexpected features were brought into sharp relief by a group of scientists who processed data from Fermi’s all-sky map. The artist’s impression (above) shows what it might look like if gamma rays were visible to the human eye. [NASA]

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