Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole Shown Feeding in This New Image

A massive whirlwind of gases migrates around a supermassive black hole that happens to be closest to Earth, as shown in this newly released image. The observations gave scientists hope it could give insight into how black holes absorb matter. Designated Sagittarius A, the Milky Way’s central singularity has been an object of study for many years, this being the first visual aid that has been imagined by scientists.

Shrouded in mystery, the supermassive black hole is thought to be around 4 million times bigger than the Sun. It was only confirmed to exist in 2018 through the use of a 420-feet wide virtual telescope that captures gas flares in its orbit. A true myriad of matter surrounds the black hole, including gases, dust, star matter and probably much more. The event horizon is flanked by an accretion disk that spans a few tenths of a light year from, also marking the point of no return for anything caught in its gravity.

The hot, swirling gases have been identified as being as hot as 18 million degrees Fahrenheit, with a flow that forms a spherical body. These gases nearly reach our star’s core temperature and have a firm glow under X-ray light thus allowing telescopes to study them, to identify the second body of cooler hydrogen gas.

Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole Shown Feeding in This New Image

Although unclear as to the properties of the second gas cloud, a color image has been made available and the study published Nature science journal, with the help of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The observations showed the gas disk at 1/10 the mass of Jupiter and placed it at a distance of a hundredth of a light year from the event horizon. Leaving room for the space between Earth and the Sun to be placed there one thousand times over.

One should not any ideas about the “kind” nature of the gas cloud, as it still registers at 18.000 degrees Fahrenheit. A member of the astrophysics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and the lead author in the new study, expects to uncover more details about the properties of the materials around the singularity and had this to comment:

“This is important because this is our closest supermassive black hole. Even so, we still have no good understanding of how its accretion works. We hope these new ALMA observations will help the black hole give up some of its secrets,” the scientist said.

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Emmy Skylar

About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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