A Ghost of a Jet?

Last week an article in Nature News caught my eye. Ghostly jets seen streaming from Milky Way’s core was the headline. It’s based on a paper by Su & Finkbeiner recently submitted to the arXiv. There’s even a picture showing the jets in glorious technicolour:

Wow! Impressive stuff. If the jets look like that it’s amazing nobody ever saw them before!

Oh, hang on. The picture is an “artist’s conception”. In other words, it’s what the jets might look like if they actually existed, as imagined by a bloke with a box of crayons.

And how strong is the evidence that they do exist? Here’s the last paragraph of the Nature article (my emphasis):

Although the emissions are dim and the observations don’t have the statistical significance that astronomers require for proof, Baganoff says that several properties make them compelling evidence of jets. They are brighter at higher γ-ray energies and also brighter than the surrounding interstellar medium. They also seem to be long and thin, as would be expected of jets. “Taking all of the evidence together, it appears highly plausible that the features are jets emanating from the Galactic Centre,“ he says.

If they “don’t have the statistical significance that astronomers require for proof” then one wonders why they’re being given so much publicity. In any case the “ghostly jets seen streaming from the Milky Way’s core” can’t be said to have really been “seen” for certain. But they are “highly plausible”. In other words, the authors would like them to be there.

All I can say is that it must have been a slow news day at Nature.

Still, nice drawing.

2 Responses to “A Ghost of a Jet?”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Science fiction?

  2. I remember a television interview with, IIRC, Nigel Calder (was he ever editor of Nature?) in which he said it is more important (for Nature) to publish “interesting” stuff than “correct” stuff.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: