Gas bubble chases around core of Milky Way

Astronomers have discovered a hot gas bubble rotating clockwise around the black hole Sagittarius A* – the core of our Galaxy. However, this bubble has not been found directly, but via an accompanying phenomenon: flares in the X-ray range, which have been detected again and again, starting from the black hole Sgr A*. Since nothing can leave the black hole itself, a phenomenon in the immediate vicinity must be responsible – the gas bubble.

“We suspect that we are dealing with a hot gas bubble orbiting Sagittarius A* in an orbit similar in size to that of the planet Mercury, but completing a full orbit in only about 70 minutes. This requires an incredible speed of about 30 percent of the speed of light,” said Maciek Wielgus of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, who led the study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics. It is likely that the flares are caused by magnetic interactions in the very hot gas.

This image shows a still image of the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* as observed by the Event Horizon Collaboration (EHT), with an artist’s illustration indicating where the hot spot is expected to be, based on modeling of the ALMA data, and the orbit it is taking around the black hole. (Image: EHT Collaboration, ESO/M. Kornmesser (Acknowledgment: M. Wielgus))

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BrandonQMorris
  • BrandonQMorris
  • Brandon Q. Morris is a physicist and space specialist. He has long been concerned with space issues, both professionally and privately and while he wanted to become an astronaut, he had to stay on Earth for a variety of reasons. He is particularly fascinated by the “what if” and through his books he aims to share compelling hard science fiction stories that could actually happen, and someday may happen. Morris is the author of several best-selling science fiction novels, including The Enceladus Series.

    Brandon is a proud member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the Mars Society.