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The center of the Milky Way is teeming with black holes

05 Апреля 2018

The centre of our galaxy is teeming with black holes, sort of like a Times Square for odd super gravity objects, astronomers discovered.

A group of astrophysicists analysed a set of X-rays blasted from the centre of the galaxy in a hunt for black holes. Those are collapsed giant stars where the gravity is so strong even light doesn't get out. One problem in establishing the shape of the Milky Way is that we live inside it, so astronomers look at similar galaxies elsewhere as analogues for our own. The light from these galaxies is also stretched by the expansion of the Universe, increasing its wavelength to make it redder.

The astounding black hole discovery comes hot on the heels of scientists announcing the Milky Way is expanding faster than the speed of sound.

The Milky Way may be teeming with tens of thousands of black holes lurking at its centre, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

A new study supports the prevailing theory of where some of the universe's most mysterious inhabitants - black holes - reside.

The stellar black holes are in addition to - and essentially circling - the already known supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A, that's parked at the center of the Milky Way. There are stellar-mass black holes - the super-dense remnant left when a star more than eight times the mass of the Sun dies.

Artistic depiction of a black hole "devouring" a star.

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Chuck Hailey, the study's lead author and professor of physics at Columbia University, said finding black holes in space is an arduous task for astronomers. "The galactic centre is a odd place".

The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy about 100,000 light-years wide that harbors several hundred billion stars. As many as 20,000 black holes are predicted to settle in the central area of our galaxy (and all spiral galaxies) but so far, these black holes haven't been observed, and neither has their gravitational effect, despite astronomers' best efforts - that is, until now. Also, the ones spotted are only the type that are binary, where a black hole has partnered with another star and together they emit large amounts of x-rays as the star's outer layer is sucked into the black hole. Black holes have earned their name for a reason-they're incredibly hard to spot because they don't give off any energy readings unless they're actively chowing down on matter or information that can be recorded.

Scientists say that this growth in the Milky Way could be hampered by the collision with another spiral galaxy the Andromeda.

First, their mass tends to pull them to the center.

They then analyzed the spatial distribution and properties of the identified binary systems and concluded from their observations that there must be anywhere from 300 to 500 such binaries and roughly 10,000 isolated black holes in the area surrounding Sagittarius A*.

But binary black hole systems are likely only 5 percent of all black holes, so that means there are really thousands of them, Hailey said.

Instead, they sniffed out the steady X-ray emissions expected from the disc of gas and dust that swirls around a black hole.

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The center of the Milky Way is teeming with black holes