Galactic volcanoes

21 Aug 2010

At www.physorg.com/print201424073.html we have an image of a galactic volcano - erupting. Of course, it isn't a real volcano but it is likened to one (see also www.dailygalaxy.com August 21st for a slightly different slant). The image comes from NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory and happened 50 million light years away - in the centre of the Virgo cluster. The author compares the eruption to that of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano on Iceland a few months ago when plumes of hot gas generated shock waves than can be seen passing through thick ash from the volcano. The hot gas that rose up into the atmosphere dragged the ash along with it - and there is a video clip. In the galactic volcano energetic particles rise through the clouds surrounding the cluster of galaxies lifting the coolest gas in its wake, and just like the terrestrial example shock waves appear to pump energetic particles into the rising gas.