This shows the “geysers” (in blue) shooting out of the Milky Way. Credit: Optical image – A. Mellinger, U.Central Michigan; radio image – E. Carretti, CSIRO; radio data – S-PASS team; composition – E. Bresser, CSIRO
"Monster" outflows of charged particles from the centre of our Galaxy, stretching more than halfway across the sky, have been detected and mapped with CSIRO's 64-m Parkes radio telescope. Corresponding to the "Fermi Bubbles" found in 2010, the outflows were detected by astronomers from Australia, the USA, Italy and The Netherlands. The finding is reported in today's issue of Nature.
"These outflows contain an extraordinary amount of energy—about a million times the energy of an exploding star," said the research team's leader, CSIRO's Dr Ettore Carretti. But the outflows pose no danger to Earth or the Solar System.
The speed of the outflow is supersonic, about 1000 kilometres a second. "That's fast, even for astronomers," Dr Carretti said. "They are not coming in our direction, but go up and down from the Galactic Plane. We are 30,000 light-years away from the Galactic Centre, in the Plane. They are no danger to us."
From top to bottom the outflows extend 50,000 light-years out of the Galactic Plane. That's equal to half the diameter of our Galaxy (which is 100,000 light-years—a million million million kilometres—across).