Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, Black Holes, General Astronomy, Stars > ALMA Detects Signs Of Star Formation Surprisingly Close To Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole

ALMA Detects Signs Of Star Formation Surprisingly Close To Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole


Credit: Yusef-Zadeh et al., ALMA (ESO, NAOJ, NRAO), NRAO/AUI/NSF

Credit: Yusef-Zadeh et al., ALMA (ESO, NAOJ, NRAO), NRAO/AUI/NSF

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered signs of star formation perilously close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. If confirmed, this would be the first time that star formation was observed so close to the galactic center.

The center of our galaxy, 27,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, is home to a monstrous black hole with a mass of four million suns. Extending outward from this gravitational behemoth for many light-years is a turbulent region of space that is thought to be wracked by such extreme tidal forces that any star-forming clouds of dust and gas would be stretched thin and shredded long before infant stars could emerge.

Yet against these extreme odds, ALMA spotted telltale jets of material bursting out of what appear to be dense cocoons of gas and dust. These jets, if they were observed in more placid surroundings, would indicate the formation of a young star. The results were accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Full Story: http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2013/protostar/

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