The gigantic structure of 2.3 light-years in length near a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A * baffles astronomers.
It turns out that at the center of our galaxy, at around 26,000 light years from Earth, lies a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A *, four million times more massive than the Sun.
This cosmic monster is not the only one lurking in that region of space.
Astronomers have discovered another gigantic structure located in close proximity, which measures a stunning 2.3 light-years across.
While astronomers have absolutely no clue what it is, they’ve managed to snap a pretty good picture of the ‘structure.’
In 2016, Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University reported the discovery of an unusual ‘filament’ near the center of the Milky Way.
Now, a year later, another team of astronomers has used a state-of-the-art technique to produce the highest quality image of this mysterious structure.
“With our enhanced image, we can now follow this filament much closer to the Galaxy’s central black hole, and it is now close enough to indicate to us that it must originate there,” said Mark Morris of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the study.
“However, we still have more work to do to find out what the true nature of this filament is.”
Despite the fact that astronomers aren’t sure what it is, there are three main theories.
The first is that the massive structure is the product caused by high-velocity particles ejected from the supermassive black hole.
A black hole can produce a vertical rotating magnetic field tower that approaches or even coils in the event horizon, the point of no return for approaching matter.
Within this structure, particles would accelerate and produce radio emissions as they spiral around the lines of the magnetic field and away from the black hole.
Another possibility is that the strange filament is a cosmic chain of theoretically not yet detected objects, that are long and extremely thin and transport mass and electrical currents. Pretty awesome, right?
Previously, scientists had predicted that the cosmic strings, if they existed, would migrate to the centers of galaxies.
If the string moves close enough to the black hole, it can be captured when a part of the string crosses the event horizon.
The third theory is that the position and direction of the filament that lines up with the black hole are just coincidental overlaps, and there is no real association between the two. Basically, there’s nothing there.
This would imply that this structure is similar to dozens of other known filaments that are farther from the center of the galaxy.
However, such a coincidence is quite unlikely to happen by chance say astronomers.
“Part of the thrill of science is stumbling across a mystery that is not easy to explain,” said co-author Jun-Hui Zhao of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. “While we don’t have the answer yet, the path to finding it is fascinating. This result is motivating astronomers to build next-generation radio telescopes with cutting-edge technology.”