Saturday, 21 July, 2018

The centre of the Milky Way is teeming with black holes

NGC4565 LRGB a spiral galaxy 30-50 million light years from Earth NGC4565 LRGB a spiral galaxy 30-50 million light years from Earth
Grady Vargas | 05 April, 2018, 01:43

As many as 20,000 black holes are predicted to settle in the central area of our galaxy (and all spiral galaxies) but so far, these black holes haven't been observed, and neither has their gravitational effect, despite astronomers' best efforts - that is, until now.

The centre of our galaxy is teeming with black holes, sort of like a Times Square for unusual super gravity objects, astronomers discovered.

"The Milky Way is pretty big already", study lead author Cristina Martínez-Lombilla, a doctoral candidate at the Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islands, which is based on the island of Tenerife, said in a statement.

"Isolated black holes just don't do much that would lend themselves to easy detection".

Researchers led by Columbia University published a study in Nature that shows that there are around a dozen black holes surrounding Sagittarius A*, which is the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. But when black holes mate with a low mass star, the marriage emits X-ray bursts that are weaker, but consistent and detectable.

Black holes have earned their name for a reason-they're incredibly hard to spot because they don't give off any energy readings unless they're actively chowing down on matter or information that can be recorded.

Our galaxy's supermassive black hole's entourage of smaller black holes has been spotted for the first time. Then, after becoming a black hole, it would have captured another star, giving birth to a binary system formed by a star and a black hole. On the surface, this increases the amount of black holes that were previously found throughout the galaxy. "The galactic center is a odd place".

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The stellar black holes are in addition to - and essentially circling - the already known supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A, that's parked at the center of the Milky Way.

The newly discovered black holes are within about 19.2 trillion miles (30.9 trillion kilometers) of the supermassive black hole at the center.

It takes billions of years for the light from the most distant galaxies to reach Earth where scientists can view and study it. Those x-rays are what astronomers observe. "The star dumps gas into a disk around the black hole, and that disk is good at making X-rays".

Using data collected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory telescope, they found 12 black hole binaries within around 3.3 light-years from Sagittarius A*.

They calculated that the Milky Way, and other galaxies like it, are growing at around 500 meters per second.

The specific connection between the galactic elements and gravity forces defined the shape of Milky Way, which is a spiral galaxy. But mostly the centre of the galaxy is the ideal "hot house" for black hole formation, with lots of dust and gas.

Hailey said it is "sort of like a little farm where you have all the right conditions to produce and hold on to a large number of black holes".

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