Astrophysicists have discovered a dozen black holes —“invisible one-way doors out of our universe” —gathered around Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, which in May, 2019 suddenly brightened, appearing like a massive, dormant volcano.
“We always thought about our Galaxy as an inactive galaxy, with a not so bright center,” said Magda Guglielmo from the University of Sydney, about new Hubble Space Telescope data showing that a titanic, expanding beam of energy sprang from close to the SgrA*, the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, 3.5 million years ago, shooting a cone-shaped burst of radiation through both poles of the Galaxy and beyond into deep space.
A UCLA astronomer at the Keck Telescope, astrophysicist Tuan Do, Deputy Director of the Galactic Center Group, reports that in the space of two hours, the brightness of black hole the heart of our galaxy usually a passive flickering object about twenty-five thousand light years from Earth, has increased 75-fold – the brightest it has been since scientists first started studying it more than 20 years ago.
Through decades of study, astronomers have developed a clearer picture of the chaotic and crowded neighborhood surrounding the supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, at the center of the Milky Way — a region dense with roving stars, interstellar dust clouds, and a large reservoir of both phenomenally hot and comparatively colder gases. These gases are expected to orbit the black hole in a vast accretion disk that’s siphoning material extending a few tenths of a light-year from the black hole’s event horizon. (more…)
“We’ve been studying black holes so long that sometimes it’s easy to forget that none of us has actually seen one,” said France Córdova, the director of the National Science Foundation, which funded the effort to capture humanity’s first image of a black hole with the Event Horizon Telescope, actually 10 telescopes, linked across four continents in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Spain, and Antarctica, and designed to scan the cosmos in radio waves. For a few days in April 2017, the observatories studied the skies in tandem, creating a gargantuan telescope nearly the size of Earth.