Roberta Duarte Roberta Duarte Brazil Meteor 6 minutes
Milky Way black hole
Researchers have found evidence that the black hole at the center of the Milky Way is about to become active.

O supermassive black holes are stellar objects found in the center of galaxies, whose mass can be billions of times greater than that of Shello. O Milky Way It has a supermassive black hole at its center. Sgr A* (Sagittarius A*).

There is a great mystery surrounding these objects:how did they get to the center of the galaxy It is how did they get their size? These two questions still do not have a final answer, and many researchers focus their work on trying to answer them using telescopes, with James Webb being one of the best examples.

One of the ways to understand and observe them is when they capture something and start their accretion phase. The closest black hole to us is about to start this process, according to a study published in the scientific journal The Astrophysical Journal.

How do black holes feed?

when we think of black holesthe first thing that comes to mind is that they are objects what They devour everything in their path. while traveling the Universe. However, the process in which they feed it’s much more complex what is that.

Firstly, it is necessary that something is captured by the strong gravitational field of the black hole. From this point, the process can be called accretion.

The process of accretion occurs when angular momentum is carried over and a disk, called an accretion disk, forms around the black hole.

To the internal parts of the disk begin to rotate in a spiral pattern toward the center of the black hole. The accretion disk can emit a glow, which can be detected by telescopes, allowing a better understanding of the complicated process of accretion.

Sgr A*: the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole

To better understand these objects, it’s helpful to look at the closest black hole to us, the SgrA*. It has been studied for several decades.and still have one Nobel Prize in Physics associated with its discovery, in addition to having the second image of a black hole, published by the Event Horizon Telescope.

Sgr A* black hole Milky Way
Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, has 4 million solar masses and the first photo was released in May 2022. Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Like most black holes close to us, Sgr A* is in a state where it eats very little. Its “diet” is limited to the stellar winds that orbit it.which is very little, and some researchers consider it a inactive black hole.

However, it is important to look at the environment it is in and recently, using data from around 20 years ago, Indications have been found that a gas bubble is approaching Sgr A*.

The remnants of the collision of two stars are approaching

Analyzing data from the center of the Milky Way, researchers at the University of California found a gas bubble, known as X7. This gas bubble is about 50 times the mass of Earthand moves at a speed of 1100 km/h, in a elliptical orbit around Sgr A*.

Images of the X7 gas bubble around the black hole
Using nearly 20 years of data, researchers at the University of California were able to observe the gas cloud X7 spiraling towards Sgr A*. credit: UCLA

More detailed observations led the group of researchers to propose that this gas bubble comes from the direct collision of two stars. When the stars collided, close to Sgr A*, they released remnants of gas, which is now is orbiting the black hole.

The Moments Before “Lunch”

If we follow the path of the X7 gas bubble, we can trace the moments before the supermassive black hole becomes active. It can give us an idea of ​​the gravitational pull of the central object and how it affects the environment around it.

Also, understand the gas bubble can give us answers about the physics of accretion, which is a complex process and still has open questions. Finally, the bubble can also point us to the answers to the two essential questions of how they got there and why they are there.