Did you know that our Milky Way galaxy is notis it such a peaceful place? So, right at its very center is a giant black hole, which is almost 5 million times more massive than our Sun! Despite its enormous size, this black hole is still a relatively calm object, compared with the same formations in neighboring galaxies. However, imagine the astonishment of scientists when they were able to discover that our rather quiet, by cosmic standards, black hole suddenly increased in brightness by a factor of 75 for several hours! How and why could this happen?
What is a black hole?
A black hole is such an areaspace-time, where the gravitational attraction is so huge that even light cannot leave this very specific area. The V616 Monocerotis black hole closest to us is so far away that in order to reach it, you need to fly at the speed of light for about 3,000 years.
You might be wondering: Where is the closest black hole to us?
Despite the fact that the black hole in the center of ourgalaxies is a huge monster called Sagittarius A, it is relatively harmless to anyone who is at a respectable distance from it. By the way, we are among the lucky ones.
Why is a black hole flashing?
Due to the fact that the central part of our galaxyusually in a relatively calm state, little is known about the nature of the mysterious anomaly. The flash of a black hole is not visible in optical light, so scientists were able to distinguish it only in the infrared region of the spectrum.
Researchers believe the black hole in the centerThe Milky Way could be disturbing. Most likely, one of the stars neighboring the hole could turn out to be such a malicious object. For example, the star is SO-2. The fact is that this incredible star rotates in elliptical orbit around Sagittarius A, often approaching, then moving away from it. So, in mid-2018, the fearless star was only 17 light hours from the black hole.
It is possible that it was the close approach of the SO-2 star that violated the way in which energy enters the black hole of our galaxy.
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Another possible “malicious intruder” of peacea black hole became a kind of gas cloud. Back in 2002, astronomers saw what they thought could be a hydrogen cloud approaching the center of Sagittarius A. They measured the cloud temperature at 10,000 degrees Kelvin and were able to measure its trajectory. It was believed that in 2013 the cloud would be close enough to the black hole so that tidal forces would tear it apart.
Initially, astronomers thought that gas from a cloudhydrogen can be drawn into a black hole and that when heated, it will flash brightly. However, in 2013, all this did not happen. Perhaps the black hole was simply not hungry and simply postponed its lunch for several years, and we could see the consequences of this decision in the form of the brightest flash in the center of our galaxy not in 2013, but in 2019.