Monday, November 15, 2010
The Bipolar Galactic Wind
When I was a kid I read somewhere that there were bubbles of anti-matter above and below the galactic plane. I thought about that for years, conjured up the image in my head when I was bored, or when stargazing. I don't think anyone believes there is anti-matter there anymore. No matter. The image remained.
And then last week there on the internet was a replica of that very image I've been carrying for decades, as if they had crept into my dreams and stolen it from the folds of my brain. An X-ray map of the sky revealed giant bubbles of plasma in the exact same spots my anti-matter bubbles were, coming from the poles of a black hole in the center of the galaxy. Perhaps scientists are more humble than they used to be, as they now freely admit they have no idea what it is. They have named it, though. They're calling it a "Bipolar Galactic Wind." What a gloriously evocative phrase.
Right there with Io Plasma Torus. Fun to say. Go ahead. Say it. I'll wait.
The Io Plasma Torus is, sadly, a doughnut of plasma, not a bubble. But still pretty cool.