Home > Agencies & Organisations, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Black Holes, General Astronomy, NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration), X-Rays > Sagittarius A*: A Glimpse Of The Violent Past Of Milky Way’s Giant Black Hole

Sagittarius A*: A Glimpse Of The Violent Past Of Milky Way’s Giant Black Hole


Researchers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence that the normally dim region very close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy flared up with at least two luminous outbursts in the past few hundred years.

This discovery comes from a new study of rapid variations in the X-ray emission from gas clouds surrounding the supermassive black hole, a.k.a. Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* for short. The scientists show that the most probable interpretation of these variations is that they are caused by light echoes.

The echoes from Sgr A* were likely produced when large clumps of material, possibly from a disrupted star or planet, fell into the black hole. Some of the X-rays produced by these episodes then bounced off gas clouds about thirty to a hundred light years away from the black hole, similar to how the sound from a person’s voice can bounce off canyon walls. Just as echoes of sound reverberate long after the original noise was created, so too do light echoes in space replay the original event.

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  1. October 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    off to read the whole story! thank you for sharing this 🙂

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