Twisted Ring Of Gas Orbits Galactic Center


The Herschel Space Observatory scanned the center of the galaxy in far-infrared and found a cool (in all senses of the word) twisting ring of rapidly orbiting gas clouds. The ring is estimated to have dimensions of 100 parsecs by 60 parsecs (or 326 by 196 light years) – with a composite mass of 30 million solar masses.

The ring is proposed to oscillate twice about the galactic mid-plane for each orbit it makes of the galactic center – giving it the apparent shape of an infinite symbol when viewed from the side.

The research team speculate that the ring may be conforming to the shape of a standing wave – perhaps caused by the spin of the central galactic bulge and the lateral movement of gas across the galaxy’s large central bar. The researchers suggest that the combination of these forces may produce some kind of gravitational ‘sloshing’ effect, which would account for the unusual movement of the ring.

The estimated shape of the 100 by 60 parsec ring. Note the oscillating shape from a lateral perspective – and from above, note the ring encircles the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*, but the black hole is not at its center. Credit: Molinari et al.

Although the ring is estimated to have an average orbital velocity of 10 to 20 kilometers a second, an area of dense cloud coming in close to the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, was clocked at 50 kilometers a second – perhaps due to its close proximity to Sagittarius A*.

However, the researchers also estimate that Sagittarius A* is well off-centre of the gas ring. Thus, the movement of the ring is dominated by the dynamics of the galactic bulge – rather than Sagittarius A*, which would only exert a significant gravitational influence within a few parsecs of itself.

Further reading: Molinari et al A 100 parsec elliptical and twisted ring of cold and dense molecular clouds revealed by Herschel around the galactic center.

12 Replies to “Twisted Ring Of Gas Orbits Galactic Center”

  1. Presumably that’s supposed to be 50km/s not “50 kilometers an hour” in the penultimate paragraph?

  2. The Lissajous curved orbit I presume must be due to gravitational effects of material around this ring. This looks similar to a class of Molniya orbits, where the angular momentum is not defined on a flat plane. This can only happen in an accelerated frame or where there are external forces at work.


  3. Could it be a power generating structure created by very advanced civilizations?


  4. Like they say whenever (personally) unexpected observations comes up – wow!

    Ha, all that ‘sloshing’ reminds of a drain. But alas: the black hole is also sloshed around. 🙂

    Since Ivan3man isn’t here yet, I will join the roast @ the communal pick nit feast:

    100 parsecs by 60 parsecs (or 326 by 196 light years)

    Significant figures should be something like “300 by 200 light years” or “320 by 200 light years” (depending on the observation uncertainty in the first place).

  5. The Herschel Space Observatory is such an awesome instrument! Thanks for the update… and link.

  6. My books on dark energy focusing, metallic hydrogen galaxy spheres totally predicted this structure exactly where it is, it is found inside stars too just a bit smaller. Check it out! The book of ZIO describes how this system work for fusion as well. These large, dark energy focusing spheres can be seen in gamma emission images of our galaxy. i.e., this is not junk science, it is real observation of systems which pre-dates this observation of our galaxy. Like I told my everyone, I was right!

    1. Like we tell you, you are wrong: promotion of personal theories (as one surmise from your denial of that) isn’t allowed in the comment policy IIRC. Make a peer reviewed publication _first_, then come back and promote.

      Uncle_Fred, where art thou? [Really; I’ve been looking for email addresses and such like, and wanted to avoid cluttering the UT info mail box.]

      1. I’m here! Right now I’ve been monitoring these comments sections manually as The UT inbox isn’t forwarding flagged comments atm. It’s tough to stay on top this way – will look into it. You can send me info on comment violators here:

        [email protected]

        I monitor this email pretty frequently and will catch the miscreants quicker.

    2. I find these facts you thrust upon us to be devoid of anything but crowing, so blow your own horn, no one else seems to be wanting to do so, no peers care to read what you have said.

      Much like your own inflation of self, your ideas seems a bit flat without the thrust you have given to them. Am I right in thinking you are the Chris Zio who wrote all the words found on

      If you were better able to communicate facts and maths I would find your blog and comments a bit more readable than the week old news I wrap round my kitchen trimmings and place in the garbage.


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