Universe  ID: 10688

Fermi discovers giant gamma-ray bubbles in the Milky Way

Using data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, scientists have recently discovered a gigantic, mysterious structure in our galaxy. This never-before-seen feature looks like a pair of bubbles extending above and below our galaxy's center.

But these enormous gamma-ray emitting lobes aren't immediately visible in the Fermi all-sky map. However, by processing the data, a group of scientists was able to bring these unexpected structures into sharp relief.

Each lobe is 25,000 light-years tall and the whole structure may be only a few million years old. Within the bubbles, extremely energetic electrons are interacting with lower-energy light to create gamma rays, but right now, no one knows the source of these electrons.

Are the bubbles remnants of a massive burst of star formation? Leftovers from an eruption by the supermassive black hole at our galaxy's center? Or or did these forces work in tandem to produce them? Scientists aren't sure yet, but the more they learn about this amazing structure, the better we'll understand the Milky Way.

For an animation that shows the inverse Compton scattering responsible for the gamma rays, go to #10690.

For an animation that shows an artist's interpretation of the Milky Way galaxy and the lobes, go to#10691.



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Tyler Chase (UMBC): Lead Animator
Walt Feimer (HTSI): Animator
Dana Berry (Skyworks Digital): Animator
Scott Wiessinger (UMBC): Animator
Scott Wiessinger (UMBC): Video Editor
Chris Smith (UMBC): Narrator
Scott Wiessinger (UMBC): Producer
Doug Finkbeiner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics): Scientist
Francis Reddy (SPSYS): Writer
Scott Wiessinger (UMBC): Writer
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Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

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This item is part of these series:
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Goddard TV Tape:
G2010-136 -- Fermi Gamma Ray Bubbles

SVS >> Galaxy
SVS >> Milky Way
SVS >> Satellite
DLESE >> Space science
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Spectral/Engineering >> Gamma Ray
SVS >> Black Hole
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> Gamma Ray Observatory
SVS >> Fermi
DLESE >> Narrated
NASA Science >> Universe

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version