This Black Hole has a Little Gas.

I’m pretty sure that everyone is (or should be) aware that there is a super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

In fact, every galaxy has a super-massive black hole in the center.  Kind of like a deadly doughnut hole.

Fortunately, because the black holes suck everything up so fast, Astronomers can actually view what is happening astronomically in a few years instead of hundreds or thousands of years for normal objects.  Astronomer’s have observed planets being eaten in other galaxies by their black holes.

Although you can’t (at least not yet) ‘see’ a black hole directly, we know they are there by the object around them.  Stars travelling thousands of times faster than other nearby objects and always orbiting the same region in an accelerated spiral of death.

New observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope show for the first time a gas cloud being ripped apart by the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. Shown here are VLT observations from 2006, 2010 and 2013, coloured blue, green and red respectively.  Credit: ESO/S. Gillessen

Using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, Astronomers have observed a gas/dust cloud being ripped apart in a few years.  The region has been deformed by the gravity well of the black hole so much that the leading edge is at the event horizon and it is moving away from the black hole at more than 6,000,000 miles/hour (10 million km/h) while the trailing end is still falling into the black hole.

Perhaps it is just a light snack before the main meal…a star.

Although it would be interesting to travel close (but not too close) to see the actual events, the amount of radiation in the center of the galaxy would fry you well before you got there.

Too bad, I always liked that movie about black holes, even though it was a little hokey.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +


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