Mysterious ‘structures’ arranged in ‘stunning’ pattern found in space


Scientists have found an array of “dashes” within our universe, all arranged in an unexpected pattern.

The vast structures are lying in the middle of our Milky Way galaxy and point towards the black hole at its core. There are hundreds of them, each five to 10 light-years long, researchers say.

“It was a surprise to suddenly find a new population of structures that seem to be pointing in the direction of the black hole,” Northwestern University’s Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, who led the research.

“I was actually stunned when I saw these. We had to do a lot of work to establish that we weren’t fooling ourselves. And we found that these filaments are not random but appear to be tied to the outflow of our black hole.

By studying them, we could learn more about the black hole’s spin and accretion disk orientation. It is satisfying when one finds order in a middle of a chaotic field of the nucleus of our galaxy.”

Scientists have no confirmed explanation for where the structures came from, and much about their existence remains a mystery. But one possible explanation is that they were thrown out from after some activity a few million years ago.

In the early 1980s, Professor Yusef-Zadeh found a set of gigantic, one-dimensional filaments hanging across our galaxy, near Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. The new filaments were previously undiscovered, and are much shorter and lie across, spreading out from the black hole.

“We have always been thinking about vertical filaments and their origin,” he said. “I’m used to them being vertical. I never considered there might be others along the plane.”

The research is described in a new paper, ‘The Population of the Galactic Center Filaments: Position Angle Distribution Reveal a Degree-scale Collimated Outflow from Sgr A* along the Galactic Plane’, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.