by Jordan Pearson
Image: Universal History Archive
Contributor via Getty Images
is blocking cosmic rays
n the Central Molecular Zone,
according to a new study...
The center of our galaxy is an enigmatic place:
Now, a new study has added another mystery to the pile:
What's more, they don't really know what it is, according to an open access paper published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.
Cosmic rays are particles like protons that are accelerated by energetic objects in the cosmos such as black holes or supernovae.
Studying them is important for probing fundamental physics, and observations tell us that the Milky Way exists in a fairly homogenous "sea" of these cosmic rays.
The mysterious center of our galaxy is expected to be an important source of these highly energetic particles, so that's where the scientists looked for fresh insights.
According to the new paper, scientists led by astronomer Xiaoyuan Huang analyzed observations from the Fermi Large Area Telescope and found strong evidence for a powerful accelerator at the galaxy's center,
...but also something unexpected:
Something is blocking cosmic rays...
The CMZ is a region of space in the center of the Milky Way containing around 60 million solar masses worth of gas within what are known as molecular clouds.
According to the scientists, it may very well be something about these clouds that is creating the blocking effect.
...they write, which is a complicated way of saying,
With more observations and future modeling, we may get a better idea of just what is going on at the center of our galaxy and the mechanisms behind the behavior of cosmic rays.
In turn, we may just glean some fundamental insight about our physical reality.