Black Hole in Milky Way Seen Snacking on Asteroids?
Our Milky Way galaxy’s supermassive black hole is apparently dining on all-you-can-eat asteroids, according to a new study.
Dubbed Sagittarius A*, the monster black hole lies 26,000 light-years away in the galactic center. The black hole is surrounded by an accretion disk—a swirling ring of superheated gases—which spews radiation as matter is consumed. But astronomers have also seen bright x-ray flares around the black hole since the start of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory mission in 1999. Occurring almost daily, the flares can last for up to an hour and can be up to a hundred times as bright as the black hole’s typical output. A team of astronomers led by Kastytis Zubovas of the University of Leicester in the U.K. thinks the flares can be attributed to the death throes of asteroids that are being drawn into the black hole’s accretion disk.