Black hole in the centre of our galaxy is the 'hungriest it's been for 24 years' | Eurasia Diary -

12 July,

Black hole in the centre of our galaxy is the 'hungriest it's been for 24 years'

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A black hole at the center of our galaxy which is normally benign has been feasting on everything coming its way — a phenomenon scientists haven't observed in 24 years.

According to a recent study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the black hole — dubbed Sagittarius A* — is hungrier than ever before, consuming unusually large amounts of dust and gas. Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) are still trying to figure out why.

"It's usually a pretty quiet, wimpy black hole on a diet. We don't know what is driving this big feast. We have never seen anything like this in 24 years we have studied the supermassive black hole," said Andrea Ghez, co-author of the study.

A few changes the scientists have observed previously was that the black hole shone 75 times brighter than usual on three separate days this year, according to Ghez. They called these changes "unprecedented".

Now, its unusual appetite has researchers thinking that the black hole might be entering a new phase altogether.

Researchers from the UCLA Galactic Center Group looked at more than 13,000 angles of the Milky Way's black hole from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile since 2003.

They suspect that it could be an unusual form of gas that's making the black hole react this way, but if this isn't the case, have also presented three possible explanations as to what could be causing these changes.

The first theory for the black hole's brightness could be due to the star S0-2. When it approached the black hole in 2018, scientists believe that a large quantity of its gas could have been pulled towards it. This would explain what the black hole would still be eating its gasses.

The other theory is that a set of binary stars called G2 could be the cause of the black hole's unusual appetite. Their closest approach to the black hole was five years ago but its far-reaching effects could have stripped G2 of its outer layer.

Scientists believe that if it is not stars, it could be asteroids. If a large enough asteroid was caught in the black hole's gravity, it's possible that it could be the cause of its large meal.

Either way, the phenomenon does not affect Earth in any way. The black hole is 26,000 light-years away from our planet and poses no immediate threat.

In order for there to be repercussions on Earth, the brightness would have to be 10 billion times as bright than what was observed.

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