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Two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles  (Source: NASA)
Two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles were found in the galactic center

newly-discovered structure, which spans 50,000 light-years and is positioned in the center of the Milky Way, was identified by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

Doug Finkbeiner, founder of the new structure and an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., has discovered two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles that may be millions of years old and span from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Grus. He was able to find these bubbles using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, which is a space observatory, and astrophysics/particle physics partnership developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy

"What we see are two gamma-ray-emitting bubbles that extend 25,000 light-years north and south of the galactic center," said Finkbeiner. "We don't fully understand their nature or origin." 

While hints of the bubbles were visible in earlier spacecraft data, astronomers conducting previous studies on gamma rays were unable to find the bubbles mainly because of the fog which surrounds gamma rays throughout the sky. When particles, which are moving at the speed of light, react with light and interstellar gas in the Milky Way, a fog develops. 

Finkbeiner and his team were able to find the gamma-ray-emitting bubbles by processing available data from Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT), which is a high-resolution and extremely sensitive gamma-ray detector. Researchers continuously refined models in an effort to identify new gamma-ray structures hidden by the fog. Finkbeiner was able to isolate the fog from the LAT data by using different estimates of the fog in these models, and finally stumbled upon the large bubbles. 

"Since its launch in June 2008, Fermi repeatedly has proven itself to be a frontier facility, giving us new insights ranging from the nature of space-time to the first observations of a gamma-ray nova," said Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These latest discoveries continue to demonstrate Fermi's outstanding performance."

The next step is to figure out how these bubbles were formed. The gamma-ray-emitting bubbles have "well-defined" edges and their emissions are much more energetic than any other gamma-ray fog previously found in the Milky Way, which, according to researchers, suggests that the bubbles were formed as a result of large and somewhat fast energy release. Finkbeiner and his team are unsure as to what the source of this energy release was, but hypothesize that it may be a particle jet from the supermassive black hole located at the galactic center. There is no evidence that the Milky Way's black hole has these fast particle jets, but there's a possibility it may have in the past. Another possible source of the energy release may be gas outflows from a burst of star formation.

"In other galaxies, we see that starbursts can drive enormous gas outflows," David Spergel, a scientist at Princeton University. "Whatever the energy source behind these huge bubbles may be, it is connected to many deep questions in astrophysics."

In addition to discovering the gamma-ray-emitting bubbles, the team also revealed Fermi's best picture of the gamma-ray sky on Tuesday. They were able to produce such an image after two years of data collection. 

"Fermi scans the entire sky every three hours, and as the mission continues and our exposure deepens, we see the extreme universe in progressively greater detail," said Julie McEnery, Fermi project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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That looks like...
By MeesterNid on 11/10/2010 11:27:42 AM , Rating: 5
Giant, fuzzy, pink balls.

But on a more serious note...we need a gamma particle cap and then tax the offenders that would thwart our crusade for gamma-neutrality!


RE: That looks like...
By CarbonJoe on 11/10/2010 2:12:31 PM , Rating: 5
Radar Operator: Colonel, you better have a look at this radar.
Colonel: What is it, son?
Radar Operator: I don't know, sir, but it looks like a giant...
Jet Pilot: Dick. Dick, take a look out of starboard.
Co-Pilot: Oh my God, it looks like a huge...
Bird-Watching Woman: Pecker.
Bird-Watching Man: [raising binoculars] Ooh, Where?
Bird-Watching Woman: Over there. What sort of bird is that? Wait, it's not a woodpecker, it looks like someone's...
Army Sergeant: Privates. We have reports of an unidentified flying object. It has a long, smooth shaft, complete with...
Baseball Umpire: Two balls.
[looking up from game]
Baseball Umpire: What is that. It looks just like an enormous...
Chinese Teacher: Wang. pay attention.
Wang: I was distracted by that giant flying...
Musician: Willie.
Willie: Yeah?
Musician: What's that?
Willie: [squints] Well, that looks like a huge...
Colonel: Johnson.
Radar Operator: Yes, sir?
Colonel: Get on the horn to British Intelligence and let them know about this.

RE: That looks like...
By StevoLincolnite on 11/10/2010 8:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, Austin Powers. :)

RE: That looks like...
By Ammohunt on 11/10/2010 2:15:24 PM , Rating: 3
Does this have to do with the Galactic Warming Crisis?

RE: That looks like...
By FITCamaro on 11/10/2010 5:53:59 PM , Rating: 4
Well Mars and Pluto are both experiencing temperature increases.

RE: That looks like...
By JKflipflop98 on 11/11/2010 2:18:30 AM , Rating: 1
OMFG we're not just killing our planet anymore! You assholes better count up your carbon credits fast before the plutonian sea-bass goes extinct!

RE: That looks like...
By Tunnah on 11/11/2010 1:34:26 AM , Rating: 2
..the galaxy is doing one massive shart

RE: That looks like...
By themengsk176 on 11/11/2010 3:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
LOL. Conservative humor is so funny! xD

Somehow familiar...
By theArchMichael on 11/10/2010 10:36:01 AM , Rating: 2
The next step is to figure out how these bubbles were formed.

Sounds like the work of Bruce Banner :-)

RE: Somehow familiar...
By nidomus on 11/10/2010 10:41:29 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Somehow familiar...
By aurman on 11/10/2010 1:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
No it was not Bruce, it was Cam Newton espn just reported it

RE: Somehow familiar...
By wookie1 on 11/10/2010 2:37:49 PM , Rating: 4
I think that Ben Bernanke inflated these bubbles with QE2. Previous bubbles were inflated by Alan Greenspan.

RE: Somehow familiar...
By Tuor on 11/10/2010 4:25:48 PM , Rating: 2
Was this preceded by a brief inflationary period, in accordance with the Standard Model?

Hawking radiation
By kattanna on 11/10/2010 12:27:55 PM , Rating: 2

i wonder if this could be caused by hawking radiation.

the black hole at the center of a galaxy should be monstrously huge.

RE: Hawking radiation
By DotNetGuru on 11/10/2010 2:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
exactly what I was thinking...

RE: Hawking radiation
By HotFoot on 11/10/2010 3:47:14 PM , Rating: 2
i don't that can be it unless we're way off on the theory. The larger the black hole, the cooler its "temperature" and the weaker its Hawking radiation. The hole at the centre of the Milky Way should be a nearly immeasurable temperature above absolute zero.

By MPE on 11/10/2010 10:36:02 AM , Rating: 2
Ooops! Sorry - Taco Bell for breakfast.

(yeah I know - juvenile)

RE: Gas
By Mitch101 on 11/10/2010 11:18:55 AM , Rating: 1
Better than someone blaming Obama, Global Warming, or In Russia Gas.

I'll state "Simpsons Did it"

RE: Gas
By Belard on 11/11/2010 5:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Leave OJ out of it! Leave OJ ALOOOONE!!!

The real question is
By BigBitch on 11/10/2010 2:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
How do you take a snapshot of the galaxy without ever leaving it?

RE: The real question is
By docmilo on 11/11/2010 10:56:06 AM , Rating: 2
Easy, hold your camera in your hand and stick your hand out the window.

Wouldn't this be some sort of toilet bowl effect? Take a big gamma ray burst, the gamma rays have nothing to interact with so there is no energy transfer. Eventually the super duper massive black hole starts pulling the farthest gamma ray particles back, they don't want to come and are pushed back by the closest ones. The Milky Way Galaxay spins in circles for Billions of years and you get the toilet bowl effect.

By parsley on 11/10/2010 1:19:14 PM , Rating: 3
"Doug Finkbeiner, founder of the new structure "

has been busy by the look of things

Are we sure?
By foolsgambit11 on 11/10/2010 3:07:00 PM , Rating: 3
Finkbeiner was able to isolate the fog from the LAT data by using different estimates of the fog in these models, and finally stumbled upon the large bubbles.
Is it possible that these balls are the result of a data-filtering issue? It's pretty easy to take a data set and apply a filter that will impart some sense of order or structure that isn't really there - think of the hockey stick global warming graph as an example, only this time it would certainly have been unintentional. I'm going to wait a couple of years and see if we change our minds about the presence of these bubbles before I fully accept that they are there. Although it'll be pretty cool if they are.

Damn you Nvidia
By bug77 on 11/10/2010 11:35:25 AM , Rating: 2
Now when I read "Fermi" I think it must be something bad :-(

By HotPlasma on 11/10/2010 12:28:34 PM , Rating: 2
They call it the Galaxy S.

fermi,s latest discovery
By johnpaulbelmonde on 11/18/2010 2:54:54 AM , Rating: 2
dutchman,s theory of everything written in 2008 confirmed by fermi,s latest discovery.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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