Science

Our galaxy's supermassive black hole is acting weirder than normal

While it is normal for the supermassive black hole to fluctuate slightly in brightness, the researchers found Sagittarius A*-which is four million times the mass of the sun-had gotten 75 times brighter than normal. This is the brightest state the black hole was ever seen in, taking even astronomers by surprise.

A burst of radiation has captured the attention of astronomers observing a supper massive black hole at the center of our galaxy. He further said that the black hole became so bright that he first mistook it to be star S0-2. "I knew nearly right away there was probably something interesting going on with the black hole", the report said quoting Do. It's under constant observation with instruments like the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii used by the UCLA team. The team there managed to capture the unusual brightening and condensed two hours into a few seconds timelapse.

Do told ScienceAlert they are now waiting for data from other telescopes, including NASA's Spitzer and Chandra, to better understand what might have happened with Sagittarius A*.

The light that can be seen in the video is actually from the gas and dust swirling around the black hole, and not the black hole itself.

The first frame - taken right at the beginning of the observation - is the brightest, which means Sgr A* could have been even brighter before they started observing, Do said. Another team of astronomers operating the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope have also measured the light-stretching effects of the black hole (they call the star S2, but it's the same star).

Scientists say they weren't aware of anything travelling close enough to create that kind of friction, however.

The other possibility according to Tuan Do, is the star S0-2, which had passed close to the black Hole previous year, it may have changed the way gas flows into the Back Hole, so more gas is falling on it, leading it to become more variable, as per the report.

SO-2 began to make its closet approach previous year and came 17 light-years away from Sagittarius A.

Supermassive black holes are common in the centers of galaxies and may generate the most energetic phenomena in the known universe. The findings so far are presently in press with The Astrophysical Journal Letters and is available on arXiv.

What makes it remarkable is that Sagittarius A* is normally relatively dim.

A star called S0-2 is approaching the black hole. Black holes do not emit radiation that can be detected by observers on Earth. There were no cosmic fireworks at the time, but we could be seeing a delayed reaction. Black holes themselves don't emit any radiation that can be detected by our current instruments, but the stuff nearby does when the black hole's gravitational forces generate enormous friction, in turn producing radiation. The ejection of matter allows this loss to occur.

The captured material needs to lose heat and angular momentum before being able to plunge into the black hole.



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