Galaxy Full of Gigantic 'Bubbles' May Be Bombarding Earth With Cosmic Rays

© Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/SAOSupernova remnant Cassiopeia A
Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A - Sputnik International
Scientists are still not sure about the origins of these bubbles, but note that they are capable of releasing highly charged particles under certain conditions that are able to travel beyond their home galaxy.

A distant galaxy, called NGC 3079, has drawn the attention of a group of astronomers from the US, Canada, Germany, and France due to it being home to two enormous gas "superbubbles", with one spanning 3,600 and the other 4,900 light-years across, according to a recent study published in The Astrophysical Journal. Scientists are puzzled as to their origin and have come up with several theories.

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According to one, the superbubbles are formed from gases that were pushed away from stars into space by shock waves. Another other theory suggests that they were formed from gases gushed out of new-born stars by the winds.

Another hypothesis is that they were formed by emissions from supermassive black holes. Black holes do not only consume matter, they are also able to re-emit some of it over time. This scenario of bubble formation might be the case when it comes to galaxy NGC 3079, as its two superbubbles are situated on opposite sides of the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's centre.

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Although the galaxy is about 67 million light-years away from our solar system, it could still affect our planet. When a bubble's outer edges come into contact with other gases, they release huge waves of highly charged particles that are 100 times stronger than those generated by CERN's Large Hadron Collider. Some of them are then bounced beyond the galaxy's boundaries. The researchers point out that they could be among numerous other cosmic rays constantly bombarding Earth.

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