In 300 million years, the black hole in the center of our Milky Way will eject matter jets perpendicular to the Milky Way plane. Image: David Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Read aloud About 4.6 billion years ago, a supernova explosion created the conditions for our existence. For out of their remnants came our solar system. In about 300 million years, on average, every year in the center of the Milky Way, such an explosion will take place. This is what astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics conclude from sub-millimeter observations. Chris Martin and Antony Stark presented their findings at the 200th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Albuquerque. The researchers observed molecular clouds in the center of the Milky Way with the Antarctic submillimetre telescope AST / RO. "Most of the matter in these clouds is very cold. Instead of visible light, the gas emits sub-millimeter radiation at these low temperatures, "explains Martin.

Combined with data from X-ray and visible light observations, AST / RO data shows that gas clouds have reached near critical density. When this density is exceeded, the clouds will fall into the center of the Milky Way. The resulting compression will lead to a dramatic increase in star births.

"Many of the resulting stars will be very massive and short-lived, " says Martin. "They will consume their fuel very quickly and explode as a supernova. Currently, we can observe one supernova explosion per century in our Milky Way galaxy. When the compression occurs, we will see one supernova a year. "The remnants of many of these supernova explosions will then give rise to stars of longer lifetimes, such as our Sun.

This process is likely to recur in a cycle of 500 million years. When the gas near the galactic center is exhausted, the gas further away will condense and fall toward the center. The black hole in the center of the Milky Way also "benefits" from this event. As matter falls in a spiral on the black hole, it emits massive matter jets at its north and south poles. display

"We are lucky that these jets are ejected perpendicular to the Milky Way plane. Otherwise, the earth would be sterilized by every life every 500 million years, "says Stark.

Axel Tilleman

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