back to article Exploding stars drive Galactic geysers

The truly enormous jets of matter flung out from the centre of the Milky Way galaxy are not, as previously believed, the detritus of a supermassive black hole. Rather, the “galactic geysers” are caused by stars forming and exploding at the centre of the galaxy. The new study combined observations from NASA in 2010 with a …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    Dr Wiebke Ebeling of Australia’s Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics told The Australian that even at our distance – 30,000 light years from the centre – the fields would be so strong that “every single atom in your body would start vibrating and generating such heat you’d melt in an instant.”

    How is that even possible? That would be worse than sitting in an NMR scanner. Stars, planets and gas giants with their conductive cores would burst like oversized eggs in a microwave oven. Think of the currents needed to generate those fields. I suspect the energy density of space would tear reality itself apart!

    I'm sure something has been lost in translation.

    1. BorkedAgain
      Thumb Up

      Re: What!

      You don't write for Doctor Who by any chance, do you? That prose was just about the right shade of purple...

    2. LarsG


      Now I can sleep easier at night.

    3. Chris Miller

      Re: What!

      I think what the good doctor is saying is that if we were sitting directly in the jet at the same distance as we are now, those would be the (rather unpleasant) effects. As it is, there are no stars in the way of the jet. I'm not sure if this is because galactic interstellar matter funnels the jet into the harder vacuum outside the galaxy; or pure dumb luck; or because any stars in the way have already been fried.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What!

      I also notice that he says "even at our distance..."

      but surely, we are "at our distance..."

      So, why haven't I mel...

    5. Schultz

      That would be worse than sitting in an NMR scanner.

      Indeed, it would be like standing in the way of a microwave crowd disperser, set at the level "fry" (or should that be "melt"? I didn't know that humans were prone to melt.).

      I like your comparison of planets with eggs, isn't earth a little crunchy on the outside, but yellow and runny on the inside? Never occurred to me before.

      1. gromm

        Re: That would be worse than sitting in an NMR scanner.

        Emphasis should be added:

        "it would be like standing *in the way of* a microwave crowd disperser, "

        Not, say, off to the side of it, where we are located in the galaxy.

    6. Mystic Megabyte

      Re: What!

      “every single atom in your body would start vibrating and generating such heat you’d melt in an instant.”

      Try drinking a bottle of red wine and having a shag in a hot tub, that did it for me.

  2. Herby


    Sorry I want my energy units more reasonable. knock it down by 7 orders of magnitude and call it 10^48 joules.

    Who uses ergs for anything measurable anyway?

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      On the contrary

      Excellent use of the Erg to make a large quantity sound even larger.

      1. gromm

        Re: On the contrary

        This is Astronomy though. There's no need for that kind of thing because any measure you use will literally result in astronomical numbers. Even using solar masses as a base unit often ends up with many times-ten-to-the-power-of's at the end.

  3. Graham Marsden

    Where is...

    ... Beowulf Shaeffer when you need him?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Where is...

      That depends on where the puppeteers are these days?

      My guess is that he's drinking off the money he made blackmailing them watching the economy collapse as they flee the Galaxy. ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where is...

        It's just his adopted son Luis, playing around with the Ringworld Defense Lasers. Chmee will stop him shortly....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahh modern science, it just gives and gives

    Meanwhile there are people still worrying about which foods are impure and whether statues weep or not.....

  5. Steve the Cynic

    Re: Ergs?

    "Who uses ergs for anything measurable anyway?"

    Well, the "foe", which is a conveniently-sized unit for describing the energy output of supernovae, is "ten to the Fifty One Ergs". Sure, it doesn't really *measure* that output, but it is still a useful unit, and its size is specified in ergs.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Ergs?

      Well if it was specified in joules it would be "ten to the Forty Four Joules" and "ffj" doesn't trip off the tongue so easily as "foe". Cue endless repetitions "FFS, WTF is FFJ?"

      1. I like noodles

        Give it to me in Jack Russells

        How many ergs does it take to make a cup of tea? How many joules to beat three eggs for an omelette? I have no clue.

        Jack Russells is better - that's a unit of energy that is large enough to understand just how much energy it is, small enough to comprehend, and - most crucially of all - it would be a unit of energy understood by the layman and average joe.

        Tell me what it is in Jack Russells. Then I and everyone else will understand.

        1. Chris Miller

          Re: Give it to me in Jack Russells

          It takes my 3kW kettle 2 minutes (that's 360kJ) to boil a litre of water, raising its temperature from 20 (say) to 100 Celsius. So it's 4.5J to heat a g of water by one degree, which matches the conversion factor for calories to joules ~4.2.

          Boiling the same kettle requires 3.6 treeellion ergs.

          1. Chris Miller


            You should never beat eggs for an omelette (certainly not energetically) - it gets too much air into the mixture. Gently stir the eggs to break up the yolks, but still leave some inhomogeneity.

  6. David Pollard

    Shaped charge?

    The Nature abstract says the authors "conclude that the radio lobes originate in a biconical, star-formation-driven outflow..."

    Is the shape down to the fortuitous positions of the stars that have been consumed to power it, or, given the relatively large magnetic field, is it shaped by magnetohydrodynamic processes? It will be interesting to see how this shaping is explained.

    In the meantime, while waiting for the boffins to figure this out, perhaps those who believe in extra-terrestrial visitors should consider availing themselves of a large white flag.

  7. Danvighar


    Does this affect our theories on the rest of the Universe's nature at all? The requisite balances of dark matter and dark energy?

    Does this same phenomenon look to be true for other galactic cores?

  8. MrT



    Rudi Kellerman: "Who goes there?"

    [sheep heard bleating]

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