Bubble Found Zipping Around Black Hole With ‘Mind Blowing Velocity’

Source: CNET


In May, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration shocked the world when it released an image of what appears to be a splotchy French cruller on fire. In reality, this wasn’t a doughnut. It was a mind-bending portrait of Sagittarius A*, the mighty black hole anchoring our galaxy, its gravitational pull silently brushing every star, planet and asteroid within.

This marked the first time we ever laid eyes on her majesty — a tremendous moment in its own right — but scientists weren’t done yet. There was far more to learn from Sgr A*.

From Earth’s vantage point, about 27,000 light-years away from this black hole, astronomers have been vigilantly watching and studying the void in an attempt to decode how, exactly, the Milky Way’s ferocious engine works. And last month, a crew working with a powerful radio telescope called the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array Observatory gleaned some novel clues.

After checking out ALMA data recorded in tandem with EHT observations of Sgr A*, during the black hole’s monumental imaging procedure, the team spotted what it calls a “hot spot” flitting around the abyss. This spot, they say, seems to be dimming and brightening while traveling clockwise around Sgr A*.


What’s the story with this bubble?


The study scientists think their newly located hot spot, according to the European Southern Observatory, is associated with bursts, or flares, of X-ray energy emitted from the Milky Way’s center. In fact, such flares have been detected in the past through both X-ray and infrared observations of Sagittarius A*, but this is the first time anyone has discovered them through radio telescope data — and with a “very strong indication” at that.

Possibly, the reason we’re seeing this energetic activity at varying wavelengths — X-ray, infrared and radio — is that their properties are changing over time.

Those interpretations, the team explains, could include a peek into the black hole’s elusive magnetic field as a whole, or insight into the environment around the strange hot spot. Ultimately, perhaps they could paint a picture of what really is going on at the heart of the Milky Way — the quietly chaotic place where a monstrous black hole takes residence.


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