The gigantic monster black hole which lurks at the core of humanity’s home galaxy has suddenly erupted in a vicious feeding frenzy.

Sagitarrius A* is the nearest supermassive hole to Earth and is usually something of a slumbering beast.

But it suddenly appears to be ‘getting hungrier’ and is wolfing down vast amounts of gas, dust and anything else unfortunate enough to be nearby.

‘We have never seen anything like this in the 24 years we have studied the supermassive black hole,’ said Andrea Ghez, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and a co-senior author of the research exposing the behemoths monumental appetite.

‘It’s usually a pretty quiet, wimpy black hole on a diet. We don’t know what is driving this big feast.’

Astronomers carried out 13,000 observations of the supermassive black hole on 133 different night since 2013.

Earlier this year, it was spotted glowing twice as brightly as usua l, with the strange light emanating outside its ‘point of no return’ beyond which no matter can escape.

This change was ‘unprecedented’, Ghez said, but it’s not known whether the colossus is about to start gorging itself or if the glow was caused by a large one-off meal of gas and dust.

‘The big question is whether the black hole is entering a new phase – for example if the spigot has been turned up and the rate of gas falling down the black hole “drain” has increased for an extended period – or whether we have just seen the fireworks from a few unusual blobs of gas falling in,’ said Mark Morris, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and the paper’s co-senior author.

Stargazers will continue to observe the monster and try to work out whether its ravenous greed will grow and grow.

‘We want to know how black holes grow and affect the evolution of galaxies and the universe,’ Ghez added.

‘We want to know why the supermassive hole gets brighter and how it gets brighter.’

Here’s a timelapse of images over 2.5 hr from May from @keckobservatory of the supermassive black hole Sgr A*. The black hole is always variable, but this was the brightest we’ve seen in the infrared so far. It was probably even brighter before we started observing that night!

– Tuan Do (@quantumpenguin) August 11, 2019

The black hole was spotted glowing strangely over four nights in April and May by astronomers at at the Keck Observatory.

Its brightness aways varies somewhat, but the scientists were …read more

Source:: Daily Times


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The nearest supermassive black hole to Earth is ‘getting hungrier’

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