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Milky Way Black Hole and Huge Gas Cloud to Collide in Coming Years

A Massive Cloud Of Gas Heading Toward The Black Hole May Shine New Light on Its Feeding Process

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By Bianca Coombs, Christian Post Contributor
December 15, 2011|11:58 am

German scientists will be fed major new insight into space phenomena when a major gas cloud is engulfed by a black hole, Sagittarius A*, in 2012 or 2013.

According to MSNBC.com, a cloud of gas which is slowly moving toward the black hole will be swallowed up, providing new information into the feeding process of the phenomenon.

The black hole is believed to be located at the center of the milky way and is still somewhat of an enigma for astronomers. Dubbed Sagittarius A*, the black hole has 4.3 times the mass of the sun, and releases exceptional amounts of light, including radio waves, as it gets heated. The waves are treated like all matter: anything that comes near the powerful black hole gets drawn in never returns.

In the journal Nature, scientists pointed out that besides waves, activity around the hole is slight. This limits what researchers can deduce about the properties of Sagittarius A* along with other black holes believed to be in the core of all massive galaxies.

"It is by no means easy to feed a black hole - if you were to throw something into its direction and you miss it a bit, the object would just swing by the black hole, like a spacecraft does when it passes a planet," said the study’s lead author Stefan Gillessen, who is an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany.

"The object can only fall in if you point very precisely towards the black hole and hit it, or if during the swing-by the object loses energy and decelerates such that it falls in,” Gillessen told to SPACE.com.

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Astronomers have been following the gas, which is three times the mass of earth, since 2002. It speeds towards Sagittarius A* in a straight line at more than 5.2 million mph and emits five times as much light as the sun along the way.

The researchers suggest that monitoring the cloud’s activities over the next few years will help answer questions about the Milky Way's black hole.

 

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