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Giant galactic 'geysers' of particles seen

Jan. 3, 2013 at 8:56 PM   |   Comments

CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Astronomers using a radio telescope in Australia say they've detected monstrous "geysers" of charged particles erupting from the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

The outflows extend 50,000 light-years above and below the galactic plane, a distance equal to half the diameter of our galaxy, a release from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization reported Wednesday.

"These outflows contain an extraordinary amount of energy -- about a million times the energy of an exploding star," CSIRO's Ettore Carretti, leader of the research team, said.

The outflows -- which travel at supersonic speeds, about 600 miles a second -- appear to be the result of many generations of stars forming and exploding in the galactic center over the last hundred million years, the researchers said.

The outflows pose no danger to Earth or the solar system, they said.

"They are not coming in our direction, but go up and down from the galactic plane," Carretti said. "We are 30,000 light-years away from the galactic center, in the plane. They are no danger to us."

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