Astronomers have for years observed observing X-ray flares about once a day from Sgr A*.
The cause of these flares has so far been a great puzzle, but that might change now.
A new study indicates that a cloud, containing hundreds of trillions of asteroids and comets around the black hole could actually be responsible for the daily flares.
Asteroid and comets inside the cloud have been stripped from their parent stars and found a new home inside the could.
The flares have been observed by Chandra using intermittent observations. The flares have also been seen in infrared data
from ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile.
It is believed that there is a supermassive black hole at the Galactic Center of the Milky Way. Credit: ESO
The panel on the left is an image containing nearly a million seconds of Chandra observing of the region around the black
hole, with red representing low-energy X-rays, green as medium-energy X-rays, and blue being the highest.
An asteroid that undergoes a close encounter with another object, such as a star or planet, can be thrown into an orbit headed towards Sgr A*, as seen in a
series of artist's illustrations beginning with the top-right panel.
If the asteroid passes within about 100 million miles of the black hole, roughly the distance between the Earth and the Sun, it would be torn into
pieces by the tidal forces from the black hole (middle-right panel).
These fragments would then be vaporized by friction as they pass through the hot, thin gas flowing onto Sgr A*, similar to a meteor heating up and
glowing as it falls through Earth's atmosphere. A flare is produced (bottom-right panel) and eventually the remains of the asteroid are swallowed by the black hole.
Click on image to enlarge
Another solar system analogy for this type of event has recently been reported. About once every three days a comet is destroyed when it flies into
the hot atmosphere of the Sun. So, despite the significant differences in the two environments, the destruction rate of comets and asteroids by the
Sun and Sgr A* may be similar.
Very long observations of Sgr A* will be made with Chandra later in 2012 that will give valuable new information about the frequency and brightness
of flares and should help to test the model proposed here to explain them. This work has the potential to understand the ability of asteroids and
planets to form in the harsh environment of Sgr A*.
Radio Emission From Ultracool Dwarf Detected By Arecibo Telescope
The Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico has discovered sporadic bursts of polarized radio emission from the T6.5 brown J1047+21.
Because Arecibo is a single, fixed-dish telescope, it has a restricted practical sensitivity to weak, quiescent emission from radio sources...
Unusual Sounds From Space Reported Worldwide - What Are They?
For almost a year now people from different countries have reported hearing strange sound from the sky. Now scientists propose that what people are
hearing is only a small fraction of the actual power of these sounds!
What are these sounds? What is causing them? Are they in anyway related to our Sun and the biggest solar flares, do they come from Earth's inner core
or can they be attributed to an unknown an astronomical phenomenon? Are they in anyway dangerous to our planet?
Power To See Most Distant Objects In The Universe
The 3C294, is one of the most distant galaxies recorded by Chandra, the most sophisticated X-ray observatory ever built.
The cluster 3C294 is even 40 percent farther (!) than the next most distant x-ray galaxy cluster.
Chandra focus on X-rays from high-energy regions of the Universe and see the invisible.
It is so sensitive that it can capture images of particles as they disappear into a black hole deep in outer space.