According to a report published in Nature on Wednesday there is a gigantic black hole absorbing a gas cloud in the Milky Way galaxy. The black hole is called ‘Sagittarius A’ and it is located right in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, it has a mass around four million times greater than that of our Sun.
The Earth is 27,000 light years away from the Earth and researchers used the telescope at the European Southern Observatory to make an analysis of the dimensions. According to their estimates, the gas cloud alone has a mass three times the size of Earth.
Researchers will be monitoring how the Black hole will be devouring the gas cloud, saying that it will take two years for it to be torn apart. Nothing can escape a black hole, even light.
Stefan Gillessen, from the Max Planck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany told the BBC news “The idea of an astronaut close to a black hole being stretched out to resemble spaghetti is familiar from science fiction. But we can now see this happening for real to the newly discovered cloud. It is not going to survive the experience”.
It is not often that a Black Hole of this size is close enough to Earth for observation, and researchers discovered the gas cloud, that was dropping into the black hole’s accretion zone. They will be closest together in 2012, at 40 trillion kilometers apart.
In a press release Gillessen said “Only three stars so far have come that close to the black hole since we started our observations in 1992. The stars passed unharmed through their closest approach; the crucial difference to them is that the gas cloud will be completely ripped apart by the tidal forces around the black hole. As a result the gas inflow into the black hole should increase substantially, as should the level of radiation from it.”
Reinhard Genzel, MPE director and head of the galactic centre research group said “Because the mass of the gas cloud is larger than the mass of the hot gas within the area of closest approach to the black hole, the accretion near the event horizon will be temporarily dominated by the accretion of the cloud itself. This will provide stringent constraints on the physics of black hole accretion, since we have an unusually good knowledge of the mass available.”
The opportunity for observation is exciting the researchers. Gillessen said “Detailed observations of the radiation from the galactic centre over the next years will give us the unique opportunity to probe the properties of the accretion flow and observe the feeding process of a super massive black hole in real time.”