The supermassive blackhole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way, just lit up, mysteriously sparkling, but scientists and astronomers aren’t sure why.
Our supermassive blackhole, known as Sagittarius A, is four million times the mass of our sun. More on Sagittarius A from NASA, here. Though no light is able to escape its event horizon, astronomers and astrophysicists can observe the surrounding stars and dust clouds around it.
Within a two hour window, they witness the blackhole become 75 times brighter brighter than astronomers have ever seen it before. They also believe that it was even brighter than this before observations began.
The brighter of the blackhole differs from minute to minute with its flickering effect when observed from the millions of miles away. Do stated:
”The brightness of Sgr A* varies all the time, getting brighter and fainter on the timescale of minutes to hours—it basically flickers like a candle. We think that something unusual might be happening this year because the black hole seems to vary in brightness more, reaching brighter levels than we’ve ever seen in the past.”
When the gravitational forces pull in nearby stars and gas clouds, it heats up and gives astronomers looking through a telescope a sparkling light show, as if it were flickering like a candle.
Do and his team speculated the reasons behind the enhanced brightness of the black hole. One of the reasons they suggest could be due to a star, S0-2, which is about fifteen times the size of our sun. S0-2 may have been what fueled the brightness increase by disrupting gases when it came within 17 light hours of our black hole.
The second theory is that it’s a delayed reaction of the G2 dust cloud that passed twice as close to the black hole in 2014 when scientists predicted that it would be torn apart by Sagittarius A.
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