Our Galaxy's black hole seen flar­ing

The three erup­tions are more ev­i­dence of Sag A*’s su­per­mas­sive sta­tus

Sky at Night Magazine - - BULLETIN -

Flares have been spot­ted com­ing from Sagittarius A*, the mas­sive ra­dio source at the cen­tre of our Galaxy, it was re­cently an­nounced. This is fur­ther ev­i­dence that Sag A* is a su­per­mas­sive black hole, as has long been as­sumed.

The flares orig­i­nate in the clos­est sta­ble or­bit to the Sag A*’s event hori­zon – the point where mat­ter is ir­re­sistibly drawn into the black hole – where gas can reach speeds of up to 30 per cent the speed of light. The ob­ser­va­tions of the flares, taken by the Very Large Tele­scope (VLT), are the most de­tailed ever taken of ma­te­rial this close to a black hole.

The flares were seen in May 2018, when a team of as­tronomers were watch­ing star S2 mak­ing a close pass of Sag A*. “We were lucky enough to no­tice three bright flares from around the black hole,” says Oliver Pfuhl, from the Max Plank In­sti­tute. www.eso.org

The flares around Sag A*’s event hori­zon were a chance dis­cov­ery by sci­en­tists study­ing the star S2

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