Gas Agglomerations Observed Orbiting The Supermassive Black Hole in The Center of Milky Way

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Gas agglomerations swirling in a circular orbit have been observed in-depth for the first time, in the vicinity of the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, the so-called Sagittarius A. Scientists from Max Planck Institute have observed, thanks to the European Southern Observatory (ESO), flashes of infrared radiation from the accretion disk that is surrounding the Sagittarius A.

Specifically, the astronomers have obtained new observations that show the gas agglomerations that are circling at approximately 30% of the speed of light, in a circular orbit, in the vicinity of the supermassive black hole’s event horizon. While some of the material in the accretion disk can orbit the black hole safely, anything that comes too close to Sagittarius A is doomed to “drown” in the black hole’s event horizon.

“It is amazing to actually see material orbiting a massive black hole at 30% of the speed of light. The great sensitivity of GRAVITY has allowed us to observe the accretion processes in real time with an unprecedented level of detail,” explained Oliver Pfuhl from the Max Planck Institute.

Gas Agglomerations Observed Orbiting Around The Supermassive Black Hole in The Center of Milky Way, Sagittarius A

“We closely monitored S2, and of course we always supervised Sagittarius A,” added Oliver Pfuhl. “During our observations, we were lucky enough to see three bright flashes around the black hole, which was a fortunate coincidence,” he continued.

This emission, from highly energetic electrons very close to the supermassive black hole, was observed as three prominent bright flashes and coincides precisely with the theoretical prediction of hot spots orbiting near a black hole with a mass of 4 million times higher than the Sun’s.

Reinhard Genzel, also from the Max Planck Institute in Garching, Germany, who is also the study’s leading author, stated that this was always one of his “dream projects,” but the German astronomers did not dare to wait for it to become possible. Referring to the old assumption that Sagittarius A is a supermassive black hole at the center of Miky Way, Reinhard Genzel concludes that “the result is a resounding confirmation of the paradigm of the supermassive black hole.”


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