Gamma-Ray Bubbles Could Be Supermassive Black Hole Eruption (PICTURES, VIDEO)
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Scientists surveying the skies using NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope have discovered two bubble-like structures apparently emanating from the center of the Milky Way.
According to Discovery News, the gamma-ray bubbles span about half the length of the Milky Way (about 50,000 light-years) and contain the energy of 100,000 supernova.
Astrophysicist Douglas Finkbeiner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics discussed the finding in a press conference Tuesday. Finkbeiner believes the "bubbles" may be "an outburst from the supermassive black hole lurking in the center of the galaxy," writes Discovery News.
"This might be the first evidence for a major outburst of the black hole at the center of the galaxy. When it's going full-blast ... it would not actually take an enormous amount of time -- maybe 10,000 or 100,000 years -- for it to produce enough energy to create these structures," Finkbeiner said.
Geekosystem presents another theory that scientists are also considering: "The bubbles also may have formed as a result of gas outflows from a burst of star formation, perhaps the one that produced many massive star clusters in the Milky Way's center several million years ago."
Princeton astrophysicist David Spergel presented and discussed the Fermi bubbles alongside Finkbeiner. "This finding will be challenging astrophysicists for years," Spergel said, according to USA Today.
Check out NASA's video (below), which explains how the Fermi bubbles may have formed; then scroll down for pictures. Official briefing materials on the discovery can be found at NASA.gov.
WATCH: [via USA Today]