Peering Into The Black Hole At The Heart Of The Milky Way.
No astronomer or satellite has been able to peer into the Milky Way’s black hole. It is just too far from Earth! Scientists, in this article, discuss and explore ways to enable them to study what is at the centre of our galaxy. The center of the Milky Way galaxy, with the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A), is revealed in the images below. Astronomers used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to take a major step in understanding why material around Sgr A is extraordinarily faint in X-rays. The large image contains X-rays from Chandra in blue and infrared emission, and from the Hubble Space Telescope in red and yellow. The inset shows a close-up view of Sgr A* in X-rays only, covering a region half a light year wide. The diffuse X-ray emission is from hot gas captured by the black hole and being pulled inwards. This hot gas originates from winds produced by a disk-shaped distribution of young massive stars observed in infrared observations.
These new findings are the result of one of the biggest observing campaigns ever performed by Chandra. During 2012, Chandra collected about five weeks worth of observations to capture unprecedented X-ray images and energy signatures of multi-million degree gas swirling around Sgr A*, a black hole with about 4 million times the mass of the Sun. At just 26,000 light years from Earth, Sgr A* is one of very few black holes in the universe where we can actually witness the flow of matter nearby. The researchers infer that less than 1% of the material initially within the black hole’s gravitational influence reaches the event horizon, or point of no return, because much of it is ejected. Consequently, the X-ray emission from material near Sgr A* is remarkably faint, like that of most of the giant black holes in galaxies in the nearby Universe. Credit: NASA.
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