Infinity Symbol of Dense Gas Observed at the Centre of the Milky Way Galaxy
2011-07-21 0:00


New horizons: This bizarre, twisted ring of dense gas at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy was observed by the Herschel Space Observatory

A bizarre, twisted ring of dense gas at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy has been observed by the Herschel Space Observatory.

Only a few portions of the ring, which stretches across more than 600 light-years, were known before.

But Herschel’s view reveals the entire ring for the first time - and a strange kink that resembles a ribbon has astronomers scratching their heads.

Nasa researcher Alberto Noriega-Crespo, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said: ’We have looked at this region at the centre of the Milky Way many times before in the infrared.

’But when we looked at the high-resolution images using Herschel’s sub-millimetre wavelengths, the presence of a ring is quite clear.’

The Herschel Space Observatory is a European Space Agency-led mission with important Nasa contributions.

It sees infrared and sub-millimetre light, which can readily penetrate through the dust hovering between the bustling centre of our galaxy and us. Herschel’s detectors are also suited to see the coldest stuff in our galaxy.

When astronomers turned the giant telescope to look at the centre of the Milky Way, it captured unprecedented views of its inner ring - a dense tube of cold gas mixed with dust, where new stars are forming.

Astronomers were shocked by what they saw - the ring, which is in the plane of our galaxy, looked more like an infinity symbol with two lobes pointing to the side.

In fact, they later determined the ring was torqued in the middle, so it only appears to have two lobes. To picture the structure, imagine holding a stiff, elliptical band and twisting the ends in opposite directions, so that one side comes up a bit.

’This is what is so exciting about launching a new space telescope like Herschel,’ said lead researcher Sergio Molinari of the Institute of Space Physics in Rome, Italy.

’We have a new and exciting mystery on our hands, right at the centre of our own galaxy.’

Observations with the ground-based Nobeyama Radio Observatory in Japan complimented the Herschel results by determining the velocity of the denser gas in the ring.

New horizons: This bizarre, twisted ring of dense gas at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy was observed by the Herschel Space Observatory

The radio results demonstrate that the ring is moving together as a unit, at the same speed relative to the rest of the galaxy.

The ring lies at the centre of our Milky Way’s bar - a bar-shaped region of stars at the centre of its spidery spiral arms. This bar is actually inside an even larger ring.

Other galaxies have similar bars and rings. A classic example of a ring inside a bar is in the galaxy NGC 1097, imaged here by Nasa’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The ring glows brightly in the center of the galaxy’s large bar structure. It is not known if that ring has a kink or not.

The details of how bars and rings form in spiral galaxies are not well understood, but computer simulations demonstrate how gravitational interactions can produce the structures.

Some theories hold that bars arise out of gravitational interactions between galaxies. For example, the bar at the centre of the Milky Way might have been influenced by our largest neighbour galaxy, Andromeda.

The twist in the ring is not the only mystery to come out of the new Herschel observations.

Astronomers say that the centre of the torqued portion of the ring is not where the centre of the galaxy is thought to be, but slightly offset.
The centre of our galaxy is considered to be around Sagittarius A, where a massive black hole lies.

According to Dr Noriega-Crespo, it’s not clear why the centre of the ring doesn’t match up with the assumed centre of our galaxy.
’There’s still so much about our galaxy to discover,’ he said.

The study is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.


Related Articles
Cosmic Hand Reaches for the Light
Unprecedented Double Helix Nebula Near Center Of The Milky Way
Cassini images bizarre hexagon on Saturn
Möbius strip
Bubbles of Energy Are Found in Galaxy
NASA Voyager Discover Magnetic ’Bubbles’ At Solar System’s Edge

Latest News from our Front Page

ISIS to France: "We will be coming. Victory has been promised to us by Allah"
2015-11-26 3:33
Homegrown French ISIS fighters have issued a chilling threat of new attacks on France just 24 hours after the terrorist group used movie footage of the Eiffel Tower's collapse in another video.  A balaclava-clad militant is seen warning 'we will be coming, we will come to crush your country' in footage posted on Twitter earlier today. It is unclear where the film ...
ISIS teenage 'poster girl' Samra Kesinovic 'beaten to death' as she tried to flee the group
2015-11-26 1:07
She appeared in social media images for the group carrying a Kalashnikov and surrounded by armed men A teenage girl who ran away from her Vienna home to join Isis in Syria has reportedly been beaten to death by the group after trying to escape. Samra Kesinovic, 17, travelled to Syria last year with her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15. The two became a ...
The Right Stuff's flagship podcast "The Daily Shoah" has been censored by Soundcloud
2015-11-25 22:56
Editor's note: The PC corporate moral police strike again. Just as Radio 3Fourteen & Red Ice Radio were censored from iTunes, The Daily Shoah was pulled from Soundcloud today. As per usual, there is a double standard, they allow any kind of anti-White material: No counter culture humor making fun of the genocidal mainstream garbage is allowed! ... From: Soundcloud took it upon ...
Merkel Welcomes A Million More: Vows To Stand By Refugee Policy Despite Security Fears
2015-11-25 21:05
Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Wednesday to stick to her open-door refugee policy, defying criticism at home and abroad which has intensified due to growing fears about a potential security risk after the Islamist attacks in Paris. Conservative Merkel faces splits in her right-left coalition and pressure from EU states, including France, over her insistence that Germany can cope with up ...
Paris Terrorist Was Gay 'Rent Boy', On The Run From Islamic State And Police
2015-11-25 20:16
The elusive eighth Paris attacker and one of three brothers implicated in the atrocity reportedly frequented gay clubs before the attack. He may have backed out of his mission at the last minute, and is possibly on the run from Islamic State as well as authorities. “We had him down as a rent boy, he was always hanging out with that ...
More News »