Understanding the Milky Way’s giant radio lobes

Using the Parkes telescope we have recently discovered giant, magnetised outflows from the centre of the Galaxy. These outflows are the counterparts to the Fermi Bubbles discovered in gamma rays by the orbiting Fermi gamma-ray telescope. They are the second largest structures in the Galaxy and were only discovered last year. Our radio observations reveal a complicated, highly-magnetised structure that extends many kiloparsecs from the Galactic Plane. Collimated channels appear to deliver cosmic rays from the nucleus of the Galaxy out into the Galactic halo. We do not know what has generated these structures - was it the super-massive (4 million solar masses) black hole that lurks right at the centre of the Galaxy or was it, instead, the intense star formation that occurs around the Galactic Nucleus?

To answer the question requires: i) modelling of the magnetic field structure of the giant outflows to understand their polarised radio emissions, and; ii) further radio observations with the Parkes radio telescope to obtain radio data at higher frequencies that should uncover how the large-scale polarized structures connect down into the Galactic centre. Understanding the radio lobes requires significant further theoretical, computer modelling and observational efforts. You could be part of any of these.

Image Credit: CSIRO

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