The Black Hole in our Milky Way Galaxy




Black Hole (Click to Enlarge)


Just over a year ago scientists confirmed that our very own galaxy, the Milky Way, had a black hole of it’s very own. This should not be a surprise as it appears that most galaxies have a black hole.

Our black hole is called Sagittarius A  and is around 26,000 light years away from us. Due to this vast distance, our black hole is unlikely to ever effect our solar system as we are hardly likely to ever get near it’s event horizon. The event horizon is  the distance at which objects and even light are unable to escape the black hole’s gravity. As the light from a black hole is unable to escape the hole and reach Earth, you would think the Black Hole is invisible to us and that we have never seen them. Well this is not the case. Black Holes can be very bright to look at because as they grab matter within it’s gravity range, the gas and dust bunching together will heat up due to friction and emit light.

Do some research and google up some information on the Milky Way’s black hole and you will even find pictures that have been taken of our black hole. You will also find out that instead of stars in close proximity to the black hole being ripped apart as you would expect, you will find that the area around the black hole is actually a good place for new stars to form. Not an area of doom and destruction after all…… well not entirely anyway.

Despite The Milky Way black hole being a monster black hole with a mass 4 million times that of our sun, it is also strangely quiet as black holes go. It actually fired off a massive flare 300 years ago, but since then it has being a sleeping giant when compared to black holes in other galaxies.

Using xray telescopes, scientists have discovered that the black hole in the Milky Way was actually a million times brighter 300 years ago when the massive flare was unleashed. But our black hole is not completely asleep as a much smaller flare was detected from it only 50 years ago.

When we have tried to see the black hole with visual light telescopes, we have failed because there is a cloud of dust shrouding the area. Radio waves can see through the dust but the radio waves are scattered by hot turbulent gas in the area. This made looking at the black hole impossible using radio waves.

That was 30 years ago and radio telescopes are a lot more sohphisticated these days. It should not be long before we get to see the shadow of our very own Black Hole situated in the center of our Milky Way galaxy.


~ by sydneystargazers on November 12, 2009.

One Response to “The Black Hole in our Milky Way Galaxy”

  1. Geez, I didn’t know all (actually very much) of that – I had no idea that it flared or that it could be seen due to the stars surrounding it. Very interesting…

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