The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy is a bit like the hearth at the center of a cozy pub. It’s a bright, warm gathering place around which all the quotidian life of the Milky Way swirls — and, according to a new study published today (Mar. 20) in the journal Nature, it might even have a chimney or two.
In a recent study of the X-ray emissions seething out of the Milky Way’s galactic center, researchers noticed two unusual structures that have never been described before. Twin columns of superhot, X-ray-emitting plasma appeared to be billowing out of the galactic center, one rising north and the other flowing south, for hundreds of light-years in either direction.
“We call these the chimneys,” lead study author Gabriele Ponti, a researcher at the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Italy, told Live Science. “Looking at them, we see clear evidence for a strong outflow of plasma from the galactic center.”