STScI: Hubble Dates Black Hole’s Last Big Meal

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STScI: Hubble Dates Black Hole’s Last Big Meal

Postby bystander » Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:23 pm

Hubble Dates Black Hole’s Last Big Meal
NASA | STScI | HubbleSite | 2017 Mar 09

Energetic Event 'Burped' Billowing Plasma Bubbles 6 Million Years Ago

Quasar's Light Yields Clues to Outflow
Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levy (STScI);
Science Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Bordoloi (MIT)

About 6 million years ago, when our very remote ancestors began to evolve away from chimpanzees, our Milky Way galaxy's hefty black hole was enjoying a sumptuous feast. It gulped down a huge clump of interstellar hydrogen.

Now, eons later, we see the result of the black hole feast. The black hole "burped" hot plasma that is now towering far above and below the plane of our galaxy. These invisible bubbles, weighing the equivalent of millions of suns, are called the Fermi Bubbles. Their energetic gamma-ray glow was first discovered in 2010 by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. (Enrico Fermi was an Italian physicist who created the world's first nuclear reactor.)

Astronomers have wondered how long ago the gaseous lobes were created, and if the process was slow or rapid. Hubble observations of the northern bubble have solved the question by determining a more precise age for the bubbles. Hubble was used to measure the speed of the gasses in the billowing bubbles, and astronomers could then calculate back to the time when they were born in a fast, energetic event.

Mapping the Nuclear Outflow of the Milky Way: Studying the
Kinematics and Spatial Extent of the Northern Fermi Bubble
- Rongmon Bordoloi et al

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Re: STScI: Hubble Dates Black Hole’s Last Big Meal

Postby neufer » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:07 pm

I really don't understand how both lobes of the Fermi Bubble can be considered Burps.

I think one Fermi Bubble lobe should be considered a Fart and the other lobe a Burp.
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Re: STScI: Hubble Dates Black Hole’s Last Big Meal

Postby BDanielMayfield » Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:13 pm

neufer wrote:I really don't understand how both lobes of the Fermi Bubble can be considered Burps.

I think one Fermi Bubble lobe should be considered a Fart and the other lobe a Burp.


With a horrendous case of galactic heartburn in between? Time for a supermassive dose of pepto?
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Re: STScI: Hubble Dates Black Hole’s Last Big Meal

Postby Ann » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:49 am

It's fascinating to consider what our galaxy was like when it created these Fermi bubbles. One definite possibility is that our galaxy collided with something (or, more likely, "interacted strongly" with something). So a large mouthful of gas would have gone down the fast spiral-in track towards our galaxy's central black hole, and the black hole responded by spitting out jets. Imagine, the Milky Way with jets!

(So I guess that answers the question, does the outburst of a galaxy's black hole kill the life of that galaxy? Well, we're still here, aren't we?)

Possible means of creation of Hanny's Voorwerp (and Fermi Bubbles?).
NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)
I can't help thinking that the Fermi Bubbles of the Milky Way just might be some really distant relations of Hanny's Voorwerp. Just look what happened when a modest little M66-twin ventured too close to the big bad wolf galaxy, IC 2497!

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Re: STScI: Hubble Dates Black Hole’s Last Big Meal

Postby BDanielMayfield » Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:47 pm

About 6 million years ago, ... our Milky Way galaxy's hefty black hole was enjoying a sumptuous feast. It gulped down a huge clump of interstellar hydrogen.

Now, eons later, we see the result of the black hole feast. The black hole "burped" hot plasma that is now towering far above and below the plane of our galaxy. These invisible bubbles, weighing the equivalent of millions of suns, are called the Fermi Bubbles.


If "millions of suns" worth of hot plasma was expelled by the Milky Way's SMBH's jets 6 mya how much must have been swallowed in this event?

Bruce
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