Researchers were able to capture an unprecedented telescopic image of the Milky Way galaxy’s turbulent centre and have exposed nearly 1,000 mysterious strands dangling in space. These one-dimensional filaments stretch up to 150 light-years long and are seen in pairs or clusters. often stacked equally spaced, side by side like strings on a harp.
Northwestern University’s Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, the paper’s lead author, was the first to find the highly organized, magnetic filaments in the early 1980s.
He discovered that the mysterious strands are comprised of cosmic-ray electrons gyrating the magnetic field at close to the speed of light.
However, the origin of these filaments has remained an unsolved mystery ever since.
The new images have exposed 10 times more filaments than were previously discovered, enabling the researchers to conduct statistical studies across a wide population of filaments for the first time.
This information potentially could help them finally unravel the long-standing mystery of the filament’s origins.
Prof Yusef-Zadeh said: “We have studied individual filaments for a long time with a myopic view.
“Now, we finally see the big picture — a panoramic view filled with an abundance of filaments.
“Just examining a few filaments makes it difficult to draw any real conclusion about what they are and where they came from.
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