Nearly 1,000 were spotted streaking through space.
X-ray: NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang; Radio: NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT
The center of the Milky Way is home to some of our galaxy’s most mysterious high-energy objects.
That’s because dark clouds of dust and gas obscure our view from Earth. Even with advanced X-ray and radio telescopes, we’re still uncovering new surprises in our cosmic backyard.
A new image captured by the MeerKAT radio telescope at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory brings to light mysterious filaments streaking across the Milky Way’s center.
Even though researchers originally discovered these strange structures in the 1980s, they didn’t know just how many existed until now.
Here are a few of the ghostly structures up close:
Researchers know that they’re magnetic. The filaments likely have something to do with past activity from Sagittarius A, our galaxy’s supermassive black hole.
They could also possibly be linked to radio-emitting bubbles that sit at the Milky Way’s center.
The next step is to catalog each one, which Northwestern University researcher Farhad Yusef-Zadeh is working on.
He helped discover the filaments in the 1980s, and co-authored a new report about the structures that will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
“We still don’t know why they come in clusters or understand how they separate, and we don’t know how these regular spacings happen. Every time we answer one question, multiple other questions arise.”
Farhad Yusef-Zadeh said in a statement.