Unprecedented New Telescope Image Reveals Nearly 1,000 Mysterious Strands in Milky Way’s Center

Milky Way Center Magnetic Filaments

A mosaic radio image of the Milky Way galaxy’s center with the background removed to isolate the magnetic filaments. The filaments are large, vertical slashes throughout the image. Credit: Farhad Yusef-Zadeh/Northwestern University

‘A watershed in furthering our understanding of these structures,’ researcher says.

An unprecedented new telescope image of the Milky Way galaxy’s turbulent center has revealed nearly 1,000 mysterious strands, inexplicably dangling in space.

Stretching up to 150 light years long, the one-dimensional strands (or filaments) are found in pairs and clusters, often stacked equally spaced, side by side like strings on a harp. Using observations at radio wavelengths, Northwestern University’s Farhad Yusef-Zadeh discovered the highly organized, magnetic filaments in the early 1980s. The mystifying filaments, he found, comprise cosmic ray electrons gyrating the magnetic field at close to the speed of light. But their origin has remained an unsolved mystery ever since.

Now, the new image has exposed 10 times more filaments than previously discovered, enabling Yusef-Zadeh and his team to conduct statistical studies across a broad population of filaments for the first time. This information potentially could help them finally unravel the long-standing mystery.

The study is now available online and has been accepted for publication by The Astrophysical Journal Letters.[1]

Milky Way Center Magnetic Filaments Labeled

A mosaic image (with labels) of the center of the Milky Way, captured with radio telescopes. The magnetic filaments are large, vertical slashes throughout the image. Credit: Farhad Yusef-Zadeh/Northwestern University

“We have studied individual filaments for a long time with a myopic view,” said Yusef-Zadeh, the paper’s lead author. “Now, we finally see the big picture — a panoramic view filled with an abundance of filaments. Just examining a few filaments makes it difficult to draw any real conclusion about what they are and where they came from. This is a watershed in furthering our understanding of these structures.”

Yusef-Zadeh is a professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).

Constructing the image

To construct the image with unprecedented clarity and detail, astronomers spent three years surveying the sky and analyzing data at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO). Using 200 hours of time on SARAO’s MeerKAT telescope, researchers pieced together a mosaic of 20 separate observations of different sections of the sky toward the center of the Milky Way galaxy, 25,000 light years from Earth.

The full image will be published in an additional, accompanying paper[2] — led by Oxford University astrophysicist Ian Heywood and co-authored by Yusef-Zadeh — in a forthcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. Along with the filaments, the image captures radio emissions from numerous phenomena, including outbursting stars, stellar nurseries and new supernova remnants.

“We have studied individual filaments for a long time with a myopic view. Now, we finally see the big picture — a panoramic view filled with an abundance of filaments. This is a watershed in furthering our understanding of these structures.”
Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, astrophysicist

“I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this image in the process of working on it, and I never get tired of it,” Heywood said. “When I show this image to people who might be new to radio astronomy, or otherwise unfamiliar with it, I always try to emphasize that radio imaging hasn’t always been this way, and what a leap forward MeerKAT really is in terms of its capabilities. It’s been a true privilege to work over the years with colleagues from SARAO who built this fantastic telescope.”

To view the filaments at a finer scale, Yusef-Zadeh’s team used a technique to remove the background from the main image in order to isolate the filaments from the surrounding structures. The resulting picture astounded him.

“It’s like modern art,” he said. “These images are so beautiful and rich, and the mystery of it all makes it even more interesting.”

Spectral Index for Milky Way Filaments

A mosaic image of the Milky Way’s center, showing the spectral index for the filaments. Credit: Farhad Yusef-Zadeh/Northwestern University

What we know

While many mysteries surrounding the filaments remain, Yusef-Zadeh has been able to piece together more of the puzzle. In their latest paper, he and his collaborators specifically explored the filaments’ magnetic fields and the role of cosmic rays in illuminating the magnetic fields.

The variation in radiation emitting from the filaments is very different from that of the newly uncovered supernova remnant, suggesting that the phenomena have different origins. It is more likely, the researchers found, that the filaments are related to past activity of the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole rather than coordinated bursts of supernovae. The filaments also could be related to enormous, radio-emitting bubbles, which Yusef-Zadeh and collaborators discovered in 2019.

And, while Yusef-Zadeh already knew the filaments are magnetized, now he can say magnetic fields are amplified along the filaments, a primary characteristic all the filaments share.

Harp Like Structures

Close-up view of the harp-like structures. Magnetic filaments appear in pairs and clusters, side by side with equal spacing between them. Credit: Farhad Yusef-Zadeh/Northwestern University

“This is the first time we have been able to study statistical characteristics of the filaments,” he said. “By studying the statistics, we can learn more about the properties of these unusual sources.

“If you were from another planet, for example, and you encountered one very tall person on Earth, you might assume all people are tall. But if you do statistics across a population of people, you can find the average height. That’s exactly what we’re doing. We can find the strength of magnetic fields, their lengths, their orientations and the spectrum of radiation.”

What we don’t know

Among the remaining mysteries, Yusef-Zadeh is particularly puzzled by how structured the filaments appear. Filaments within clusters are separated from one another at perfectly equal distances — about the distance from Earth to the sun.

Farhad Yusef Zadeh

Farhad Yusef-Zadeh. Credit: Northwestern University

“They almost resemble the regular spacing in solar loops,” he said. “We still don’t know why they come in clusters or understand how they separate, and we don’t know how these regular spacings happen. Every time we answer one question, multiple other questions arise.”

Yusef-Zadeh and his team also still don’t know whether the filaments move or change over time or what is causing the electrons to accelerate at such incredible speeds.

“How do you accelerate electrons at close to the speed of light?” he asked. “One idea is there are some sources at the end of these filaments that are accelerating these particles.”

What’s next

Yusef-Zadeh and his team are currently identifying and cataloging each filament. The angle, curve, magnetic field, spectrum and intensity of each filament will be published in a future study. Understanding these properties will give the astrophysics community more clues into the filaments’ elusive nature.

The MeerKAT telescope, which launched in July 2018, will continue to unveil new secrets.

“We’re certainly one step closer to a fuller understanding,” Yusef-Zadeh said. “But science is a series of progress on different levels. We’re hoping to get to the bottom of it, but more observations and theoretical analyses are needed. A full understanding of complex objects takes time.”

References:

  1. “Statistical Properties of the Population of the Galactic Center Filaments: The Spectral Index and Equipartition Magnetic Field” by F. Yusef-Zadeh, R. G. Arendt, M. Wardle, I. Heywood, W. D. Cotton and F. Camilo, Accepted, The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
    arXiv:2201.10552
  2. “The 1.28 GHz MeerKAT Galactic Center Mosaic” by I. Heywood, I. Rammala, F. Camilo, W. D. Cotton, F. Yusef-Zadeh, T. D. Abbott, R. M. Adam, G. Adams, M. A. Aldera, K. M. B. Asad, E. F. Bauermeister, T. G. H. Bennett, H. L. Bester, W. A. Bode, D. H. Botha, A. G. Botha, L. R. S. Brederode, S. Buchner, J. P. Burger, T. Cheetham, D. I. L. de Villiers, M. A. Dikgale-Mahlakoana, L. J. du Toit, S. W. P. Esterhuyse, B. L. Fanaroff, S. February, D. J. Fourie, B. S. Frank, R. R. G. Gamatham, M. Geyer, S. Goedhart, M. Gouws, S. C. Gumede, M. J. Hlakola, A. Hokwana, S. W. Hoosen, J. M. G. Horrell, B. Hugo, A. I. Isaacson, G. I. G. Józsa, J. L. Jonas, A. F. Joubert, R. P. M. Julie, F. B. Kapp, J. S. Kenyon, P. P. A. Kotzé, N. Kriek, H. Kriel, V. K. Krishnan, R. Lehmensiek, D. Liebenberg, R. T. Lord, B. M. Lunsky, K. Madisa, L. G. Magnus, O. Mahgoub, A. Makhaba, S. Makhathini, J. A. Malan, J. R. Manley, S. J. Marais, A. Martens, T. Mauch, B. C. Merry, R. P. Millenaar, N. Mnyandu, O. J. Mokone, T. E. Monama, M. C. Mphego, W. S. New, B. Ngcebetsha, K. J. Ngoasheng, M. T. Ockards, N. Oozeer, A. J. Otto, S. S. Passmoor, A. A. Patel, A. Peens-Hough, S. J. Perkins, A. J. T. Ramaila, N. M. R. Ramanujam, Z. R. Ramudzuli, S. M. Ratcliffe, A. Robyntjies, S. Salie, N. Sambu, C. T. G. Schollar, L. C. Schwardt, R. L. Schwartz, M. Serylak, R. Siebrits, S. K. Sirothia, M. Slabber, O. M. Smirnov, L. Sofeya, B. Taljaard, C. Tasse, A. J. Tiplady, O. Toruvanda, S. N. Twum , T. J. van Balla, A. van der Byl, C. van der Merwe, V. Van Tonder, R. Van Wyk, A. J. Venter, M. Venter, B. H. Wallace, M. G. Welz, L. P. Williams and B. Xaia, Accepted, The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
    arXiv:2201.10541

The study, “Statistical properties of the population of the galactic center filaments: The spectral index and equipartition magnetic field,” was supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation.

9 Comments on "Unprecedented New Telescope Image Reveals Nearly 1,000 Mysterious Strands in Milky Way’s Center"

  1. Well he we go again. Why don’t you go back school and learn about electricity. Mr Tesla and other giants before you will tell you that this is an Electric Universe. You can’t have one without the other in other words with magnetism you electricity flowing inside
    and the magnetic field constraining it inside. Go to school then come back and tell us how Wonderfull your are. NOT

  2. Problem : stellar jets

    Assumption: When nuclear fusion starts in the core the jets of gaseous dark matter rather than recondensing and circulating explodes straight out of the core in such a strong steady stream that it carry’s plasma with it. Once the jet begins to slow and spread out the turbulence allows the velocity versus gravity equals zero g effect on liquid dark matter that is carried along with the jet to vaporize. This will further accelerate the jet.

    Problem : black hole jets

    Assumption: When the accretion disk begin to heat up it also causes the jets of gaseous dark matter to explode straight out of the poles of the co-rotating sphere of liquid dark matter in such a strong steady stream that it carry’s plasma and liquid dark matter with it. Once the jet begins to slow and spread out the turbulence allows the vomit comet effect to affect any of the liquid dark matter carried in the jet. This releases more heat and the expansion further accelerates the jet.

    Non feeding black holes condense dark matter into its liquid state due to gravity.

    Once a black hole begins feeding the liquid dark matter flashes into gaseous dark matter which blasts out of the poles as rotating objects are narrower at the poles..

  3. Snacking black holes or forming stars both could create these filaments due to the phase transition of dark matter.

    Problem : stellar jets

    Assumption: When nuclear fusion starts in the core the jets of gaseous dark matter rather than recondensing and circulating explodes straight out of the core in such a strong steady stream that it carry’s plasma with it. Once the jet begins to slow and spread out the turbulence allows the velocity versus gravity equals zero g effect on liquid dark matter that is carried along with the jet to vaporize. This will further accelerate the jet.

    Problem : black hole jets

    Assumption: When the accretion disk begin to heat up it also causes the jets of gaseous dark matter to explode straight out of the poles of the co-rotating sphere of liquid dark matter in such a strong steady stream that it carry’s plasma and liquid dark matter with it. Once the jet begins to slow and spread out the turbulence allows the vomit comet effect to affect any of the liquid dark matter carried in the jet. This releases more heat and the expansion further accelerates the jet.

    Non feeding black holes condense dark matter into its liquid state due to gravity.

    Once a black hole begins feeding the liquid dark matter flashes into gaseous dark matter which blasts out of the poles as rotating objects are narrower at the poles..

  4. Babu G. Ranganathan | January 27, 2022 at 9:49 am | Reply

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. Bible/Biology)

    JUST BECAUSE SCIENCE CAN EXPLAIN how an airplane works doesn’t mean that no one designed or made the airplane. And just because science can explain how life or the universe works doesn’t mean there was no Designer and Maker behind them.

    Natural laws may explain how the order in the universe works and operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot explain the origin of that order. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells from raw materials such as amino acids and other chemicals, but how could life or the cell have naturally originated when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

    WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No human observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports.

    SCIENCE SHOWS THAT THE UNIVERSE CANNOT BE ETERNAL because it could not have sustained itself eternally due to the law of entropy (increasing and irreversible net energy decay, even in an open system). Even a hypothetical oscillating universe could not continue to oscillate eternally! Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity shows that space, matter, and time all are physical and all had a beginning. Space even produces particles because it’s actually something, not nothing. What about the Higgs boson (the so-called “God Particle”)? The Higgs boson, even if it existed, would not have created mass from nothing, but rather it would have converted energy into mass. Einstein showed that all matter is some form of energy. Even time had a beginning! Time is not eternal.

    The law of entropy doesn’t allow the universe to be eternal. If the universe were eternal, everything, including time and space (which modern science has shown are as physical as mass or matter), would have become totally entropied by now and the entire universe would have ended in a uniform heat death a long, long time ago. The fact that this hasn’t happened already is powerful evidence for a beginning to the universe.

    Popular atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking admits that the universe had a beginning and came from nothing but he believes that nothing became something by a natural process yet to be discovered. That’s not rational thinking at all, and it also would be making the effect greater than its cause to say that nothing created something. The beginning had to be of supernatural origin because science teaches us from the First Law of Thermodynamics that natural laws and processes do not have the ability to bring something into existence from nothing.

    The supernatural origin of the universe cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.

    The disorder in the universe can be explained because of chance and random processes, but the order can be explained only because of intelligence and design.

    Gravity may explain how the order found in the precise and orderly courses of thousands of billions of stars is maintained, but gravity cannot explain the origin of that order.

    Some evolutionary astronomers believe that trillions of stars crashed into each other leaving surviving stars to find precise orderly orbits in space. Not only is this irrational, but if there was such a mass collision of stars then there would be a super mass residue of gas clouds in space to support this hypothesis. The present level of residue of gas clouds in space doesn’t support the magnitude of star deaths required for such a hypothesis. And, as already stated, the origin of stars cannot be explained by the Big Bang because of the reasons mentioned above. It’s one thing to say that stars may decay and die into random gas clouds, but it is totally different to say that gas clouds form into stars.

    Even the father of Chaos theory admitted that the “mechanisms” existing in the non-living world allow for only very rudimentary levels of order to arise spontaneously (by chance), but not the kind or level of order we find in the structures of DNA, RNA, and proteins. Yes, individual amino acids have been shown to come into existence by chance but not protein molecules which require that the various amino acids be in a precise sequence just like the letters found in a sentence.

    Some things don’t need experiment or scientific proof. In law there is a dictum called prima facie evidence. It means “evidence that speaks for itself.”

    An example of a true prima facie would be if you discovered an elaborate sand castle on the beach. You don’t have to experiment to know that it came by design and not by the chance forces of wind and water.

    If you discovered a romantic letter or message written in the sand, you don’t have to experiment to know that it was by design and not because a stick randomly carried by wind put it there. You naturally assume that an intelligent and rational being was responsible.

    It’s interesting that Carl Sagan would have acknowledged sequential radio signals in space as evidence of intelligent life sending them, but he wouldn’t acknowledge the sequential structure of molecules in DNA (the genetic code) as evidence of an intelligent Cause. Read my popular Internet article, HOW DID MY DNA MAKE ME.

    I encourage all to read my popular Internet articles:

    NATURAL LIMITS TO EVOLUTION
    HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

    Visit my latest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION (This site answers many arguments, both old and new, that have been used by evolutionists to support their theory)

    Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

    *I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I’ve been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who in The East” for my writings on religion and science.

  5. Todd A.”Blayze”Haught Jr | January 27, 2022 at 12:27 pm | Reply

    I’m my opinion, this looks like a long exposure picture. Scientists expected the this; considering how far the camera is to Earth, when it receives the input to take the pic judged the time it takes to snap said picture then be able to send it back and the rate which it is traveling.
    The telescope starts taking picture immediately when prompted, while taking the HD picture , the telescope is still traveling away from our planet so to push the image through quicker , the on board computer immediately sends picture back to earth; This is probably done while the picture is still being taken and formatted maybe seconds to us but at 80,000 mph in space those fractions on a second on a camera will make the lines or show tails.
    Just be glad this is t the 90s where we gotta wait 6-9 months for the servers in the room the size of a basketball court will tie to receive that data and format it the. Print it so we can see what’s going on, thank you technology.
    ^ Please be advised , cheers.

  6. Wow. My first time visiting this site, and the comments are full of religious nuts and alt-fact nuts. I won’t be back.

  7. Obviously these are Stargate “tunnels.”

  8. Where do all these goofballs come from?! And why would they come here to spread their sh*tty nonsense? Do they really hope that their “popular” papers would be met with even more popularity if they promote it amongst people intrested in science and astronomy?! Do they think they can secure some funds to test their hypotheses about “liquid dark matter” and prove that liquid dark matter is completely healthy to drink, and market a “dark matter energy drink, now in liquid form” & get super rich out of it?! I’m just curious, what really IS their thinking process that ends with them writing those comments (or god forbid, their “popular” papers)?!
    As late George Carlin said time & again, “people are fu*#%@kin goofy!”

  9. Lol. The standard model of BS cosmology We live in a electric universe. Newtonian physics cant explain anything outside of your solar system. Stars are electric. And get thier power thru the grill and currents. There was a plasma universe cosmology that was canceled over 50 years ago. It was attacked and im its place was dark matter BS. Its awesome to see all the proof of the electric universe screaming to us while these hacks act like they dont know how the universe works. Instead of admitting a broken foundation They make up now crap.
    Electric
    Universe is what we live in.

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