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1,000 mysterious strands in the heart of our galaxy

SPACE 1000 mysterious-strands-1
An unprecedented new image of the Milky Way galaxy’s turbulent center has revealed nearly 1,000 mysterious strands, inexplicably dangling in space. Astronomers have described some of the strands as being “like the strings on a harp.” That is, they appear in pairs and clusters, side by side with equal spacing between them. Here’s a close-up view of the harp-like structures. Image via Northwestern /SARAO/ Oxford.

On January 26, 2022, the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) reveals an image, which took more than three years to create, of the heart of the Milky Way. One of the most exciting aspects was the discovery of unexplained strands near the center of our Galaxi.

The origin of the strands remains unknown. They are extremely well organized in clusters and pairs, crisscrossing and curling at times, often stacked equally spaced, with some evenly spaced out “like strings on a harp.” Some of them reach a distance of up to 150 light-years.

According to Northwestern University, these strange strands were discovered by Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, an astronomer at the university in 1984. The astronomers had not anticipated discovering these strands, and they have never seen them in such abundance or detail before.

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Who or what are they? the astronomers have no idea.

SPACE SPACE 1000 mysterious strands
A close-up image of curved filaments in the strands, which the astronomers describe as “resembling Saturn’s rings.” Image via Northwestern/ SARAO/ Oxford.

They ruled out supernovae as the source of the peculiar filaments, which are naturally magnetic. They believe these magnetic filaments may have something to do with the galaxy’s 4-million-solar-mass black hole at its center. And/or they could be connected to the massive radio-wave-emitting bubbles observed at Northwestern University in September 2019.

In an article published by Yusef-Zadeh he says: “

We have studied individual filaments for a long time with a myopic [shortsighted or nearsighted] view. Just examining a few filaments makes it difficult to draw any real conclusion about what they are and where they came from.

Now, we finally see the big picture — a panoramic view filled with an abundance of filaments. This is a watershed in furthering our understanding of these structures.

This is the first time we have been able to study statistical characteristics of the filaments. By studying statistics, we can learn more about the properties of these unusual sources.

If you were from another planet, for example, and you encountered one very tall person on Earth, you might assume all people are tall. But if you do statistics across a population of people, you can find the average height.

That’s exactly what we’re doing. We can find the strength of magnetic fields, their lengths, their orientations, and the spectrum of radiation.”

They are now the subject of a new study available online and have been accepted for publication by The Astrophysical Journal Letters.



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