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Non-Thermal Insights on Mass and Energy Flows Through the Galactic Centre and into the Fermi Bubbles


Crocker,  Roland M.
Division Prof. Dr. Werner Hofmann, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Crocker, R. M. (2012). Non-Thermal Insights on Mass and Energy Flows Through the Galactic Centre and into the Fermi Bubbles. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 423(4), 3512-3539. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21149.x.

We construct a simple model of the star-formation- (and resultant supernova-) driven mass and energy flows through the inner ~200 pc (in diameter) of the Galaxy. Our modelling is constrained, in particular, by the non-thermal radio continuum and {\gamma}-ray signals detected from the region. The modelling points to a current star-formation rate of 0.04 - 0.12 M\msun/year at 2{\sigma} confidence within the region with best-fit value in the range 0.08 - 0.12 M\msun/year which - if sustained over 10 Gyr - would fill out the ~ 10^9 M\msun stellar population of the nuclear bulge. Mass is being accreted on to the Galactic centre (GC) region at a rate ~0.3M\msun/year. The region's star-formation activity drives an outflow of plasma, cosmic rays, and entrained, cooler gas. Neither the plasma nor the entrained gas reaches the gravitational escape speed, however, and all this material fountains back on to the inner Galaxy. The system we model can naturally account for the recently-observed ~> 10^6 'halo' of molecular gas surrounding the Central Molecular Zone out to 100-200 pc heights. The injection of cooler, high-metallicity material into the Galactic halo above the GC may catalyse the subsequent cooling and condensation of hot plasma out of this region and explain the presence of relatively pristine, nuclear-unprocessed gas in the GC. The plasma outflow from the GC reaches a height of a few kpc and is compellingly related to the recently-discovered Fermi Bubbles. Our modelling demonstrates that ~ 10^9 M\msun of hot gas is processed through the GC over 10 Gyr. We speculate that the continual star-formation in the GC over the age of the Milky Way has kept the SMBH in a quiescent state thus preventing it from significantly heating the coronal gas, allowing for the continual accretion of gas on to the disk and the sustenance of star formation on much wider scales in the Galaxy [abridged].