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.

4 comments:

Poet in Residence said...

That's interesting because I carry around with me the image of a stationary hole at the centre of the galaxy.I figure the galaxy is 15 billion years old (or whatever) and we're on the edge and only gone round 3 times (or maybe not even that) so we must be going more or less flat out around this centre that must be either not moving or moving so slow as to appear to be not moving. Imagine if you can the water leaving your bath taking 15 billion years just to spin just 3 times round the plug hole. What does all this mean? Bubbles with nowhere to go!

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

A Bipolar Galactic Wind... seriously? Someone has a truly sick sense of humor. ;D

You should be doing astronomy for a living. Just saying. But keep writing, too. Both of them are good for you.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Fresca said...

All I can think is the mockumentary "A Mighty Wind".
That, and dark matter. But it's not purple.

Clowncar said...

Well, I carry that same picture around, PiR. Cuz there is a hole in the middle - a black hole. Right by Sagittarius. In our part of the country, we get to see that part of the sky in the late summer, early fall. My favorite night sky.

Thank you, Scarlett, that's such a kind thing to say. Yes, I'd make a good astronomer, I think. But I came into it late in life. Writing and teaching it remains.

Hey Fresca, that's funny, because I lniked to this from Facebook with the line "A mighty wind is blowing you and me." I love that group of actors. Waiting for Guffman in particular. Even better than Spinal Tap.