Rare Crash Coming to Milky Way Black Hole

Rare Crash Coming To Milky Way Black Hole

A rare crash is coming to the Milky Way’s black hole. It is due to a mysterious gas cloud spinning toward the supermassive black hole, which is located at the center of our galaxy. The cloud is known to astronomers only as G2, and was found back in 2011.  They believed it would encounter the black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, and pronounced as “Sagittarius A-star” back in the latter part of 2013. Now astrophysicists are telling everyone the crash should happen sometime in the next few months, most likely in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring season.

The gas cloud has over three times the mass of Earth and has astronomers wondering what is going to occur when the cloud runs into the black hole. For any individuals that are on Earth, absolutely nothing will seem to have happened. The story will be different out in space. Scientists are waiting excitedly and watching for any signs of the impact. Black holes, even the supermassive ones, may be invisible, because no light can escape from them because they are so massively dense. However, as G2 spins closer and closer toward Sagittarius A*, any material that falls into the black hole will sparkle in X-rays.

Astronomers are extremely excited about this. They will be able to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by watching this crash occur. It is not every day that one gets to see the actual process of watching as a supermassive black hole feeds. Scientists who are located at University of Michigan, are in charge of checking on the core of the Milky Way with the Swift X-ray telescope from NASA. They stated in a recent press release on Jan. 8, that even though astrophysicists are expecting to see somewhat of a difference in the range of brightness, they really have no idea how intense it could turn out to be. This is because, in part, due to that they are not completely sure exactly what the gaseous G2 object really is.

If G2 turns out to be nothing but gas, it will glimmer inside the X-ray band for many years to come as the black hole gradually gulps away the gas cloud. It would look impressive and be something that would be extremely exciting for scientists

However, G2 just might also be surrounding a very old star. If that were to be the circumstance, the entire devouring episode would end up being much less impressive as Sagittarius A* gulped from the gas cloud as  the star passed right on by, thick enough to be able to escape the black hole’s grasp. Astronomers will just have to sit back and wait to see what happens.

As was stated above, the gas cloud which is known as G2, and was predictable to meet up with the supermassive black hole that is at the very center of Earth’s Milky Way galaxy in late 2013, is still progressing slowly toward the black hole. It is now believed by astronomers that the rare crash between the two will most likely happen in what is considered the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere, and this would be fall in the Southern Hemisphere of this year, 2014.

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

EarthSky News

Physics News

The Sacramento Bee

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