Sunday, February 12, 2012

Black Hole Munchies

Hey Space Placers!

Maybe you knew that a supermassive black hole resides at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Known as Sagittarius A* (or Sgr A* for short),  this intriguing object has been observed by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Telescope spacecraft in detail. Using a million seconds of accumulated observing time Chandra has given us the most detailed view to date of this multi-million solar mass monster that lies 26,000 light years away.

It is thought that most galaxies have similar beasts residing at their centers but many of these are far more "active" - that is they are fueled by incoming matter to be far more luminous than Sgr A*.  Sgr A* does however undergo X-ray flare events on an almost daily basis - that is the region flares up due to the consuming of some type of matter.

Astronomers think they have the answer - Sgr A* is eating asteroids and comets. It is thought that a cloud containing hundreds of trillions of asteroids and comets that were stripped from their parent star is feeding the beast and causing these flare events.

We can see the perfect analogy of this process with our own Sun and its interaction with sun grazing comets. Averaging a rate of once every couple of days a comet spirals in to the Sun - we saw this recently with Comet Lovejoy.

Chandra will be looking at Sgr A* in 2012 to help acquire more data and thereby learn more about this intriguing area of our home Galaxy. Read More About It:


Sky Guy in VA

No comments:

Post a Comment