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Milky Way's centre exploded 3.5 million years ago

Milky Way's centre exploded 3.5 million years ago

  • 6 October 2019
Image copyright Press Association
Image caption Artists' impression of the giant flare in the Milky Way

A cataclysmic energy flare ripped through our galaxy, the Milky Way, about 3.5 million years ago, a team of astronomers say.

They say the so-called Sifter flare started near the super massive black hole in the centre of the galaxy.

The impact was felt 200,000 light-years away.

The discovery that the Milky Way's centre was more dynamic than previously thought can lead to a complete reinterpretation of its evolution.

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"These results dramatically change our understanding of the Milky Way," says co-author Magma Guglielmo from the University of Sydney.

"We always thought about our Galaxy as an inactive galaxy, with a not so bright centre," she added.

The flare created two enormous "ionisation cones" that sliced through the Milky Way.

The team - led by Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn from Australia - used the data gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope to calculate when the massive explosion of high-energy radiation took place.

The findings will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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