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Wild at Heart: the particle astrophysics of the Galactic Centre



IIF Marie Curie Fellow.


We consider the high-energy astrophysics of the inner ∼200 pc of the Galaxy. Our modelling of this region shows that the supernovae exploding here every few thousand years inject enough power to (i) sustain the steady-state, in situ population of cosmic rays (CRs) required to generate the region’s non-thermal radio and TeV γ-ray emission; (ii) drive a powerful wind that advects non-thermal particles out of the inner Galactic Centre; (iii) supply the low-energy CRs whose Coulombic collisions sustain the temperature and ionization rate of the anomalously warm envelope inline image detected throughout the Central Molecular Zone; (iv) accelerate the primary electrons which provide the extended, non-thermal radio emission seen over ∼150 pc scales above and below the plane (the Galactic Centre lobe); and (v) accelerate the primary protons and heavier ions which, advected to very large scales (up to ∼10 kpc), generate the recently identified Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) haze and corresponding Fermi haze/bubbles. Our modelling bounds the average magnetic field amplitude in the inner few degrees of the Galaxy to the range 60 < B/μ G < 40 0 (at 2σ confidence) and shows that even TeV CRs likely do not have time to penetrate into the cores of the region’s dense molecular clouds before the wind removes them from the region. This latter finding apparently disfavours scenarios in which CRs – in this starburst-like environment – act to substantially modify the conditions of star formation. We speculate that the wind we identify plays a crucial role in advecting low-energy positrons from the Galactic nucleus into the bulge, thereby explaining the extended morphology of the 511 keV line emission. We present extensive appendices reviewing the environmental conditions in the Galactic Centre, deriving the star formation and supernova rates there, and setting out the extensive prior evidence that exists, supporting the notion of a fast outflow from the region.