The Galactic Centre – A Laboratory for Starburst Galaxies (?)

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Roland M. Crocker
The Galactic centre – as the closest galactic nucleus – holds both intrinsic interest and possibly represents a useful analogue to star-burst nuclei which we can observe with orders of magnitude finer detail than these external systems.
The environmental conditions in the GC – here taken to mean the inner 200 pc in diameter of the Milky Way – are extreme with respect to those typically encountered in the Galactic disk. The energy densities of the various GC ISM components are typically ~two orders of magnitude larger than those found locally and the star-formation rate density ~three orders of magnitude larger.
Unusually within the Galaxy, the Galactic centre exhibits hard-spectrum, diffuse TeV (=10^12 eV) gamma-ray emission spatially coincident with the region’s molecular gas. Recently the nuclei of local star-burst galaxies NGC 253 and M82 have also been detected in gamma-rays of such energies. We have embarked on an extended campaign of modelling the broadband (radio continuum to TeV gamma-ray), non- thermal signals received from the inner 200 pc of the Galaxy.
On the basis of this modelling we find that star-formation and associated supernova activity is the ultimate driver of the region’s non-thermal activity. This activity drives a large-scale wind of hot plasma and cosmic rays out of the GC.
The wind advects the locally-accelerated cosmic rays quickly, before they can lose much energy in situ or penetrate into the densest molecular gas cores where star-formation occurs. The cosmic rays can, however, heat/ionize the lower density/warm H2 phase enveloping the cores. On very large scales (~10 kpc) the non-thermal signature of the escaping GC cosmic rays has probably been detected recently as the spectacular ‘Fermi bubbles’ and corresponding ‘WMAP haze’…..
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Written by physicsgg

December 30, 2011 at 7:31 am


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