Twenty years ago, astronomers discovered a number of enigmatic radio-emitting filaments concentrated near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. These features initially defied explanation, but a new study of radio images of the Galactic center may point to their possible source.
Combined VLA and GBT image (green) of the Galactic center, with red inset of GBT data only (red). Bright region on right is location of supermassive black hole. Linear filaments are visible above this area.
CREDIT: NRAO/AUI/NSF Yusef-Zadeh, et.al.
By combining data from the National Science Foundations Very Large Array (VLA) and Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), astronomer Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University has found evidence that at least some of the filaments spring from the concentrated star-formation regions that populate the Galactic center.
Yusef-Zadeh presented his findings June 1 at the Denver, Colo., meeting of the American Astronomical Society. William Cotton of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Va., and William Hewitt of Northwestern University also contributed to this research.
"Astronomers have long puzzled over the cause of these striking features," said Yusef-Zadeh, professor of physics and astronomy, "and the turbulent nature of the Galactic center has made detailed analysis difficult. With new multi-wavelength radio images of the Galactic center, however, we can finally see a link between areas of starburst activity and these long-linear filaments."
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