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Astronomers confirm black hole at the heart of the Milky Way

Posted By admin On December 10, 2008 @ 11:29 am In Sci Tech | Comments Disabled

Mark Henderson
London Times [1]
Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008

A swarm of stars orbiting a vast black hole at the centre of the Milky Way has been mapped with remarkable precision, providing astronomers with their most detailed look yet at the heart of our galaxy.

Observations by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile has found the strongest evidence yet for a supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core, as well as charting the immense gravitational effects this has on the surrounding stars.

Over 16 years, the orbits of 28 stars in the Milky Way’s central region have been meticulously tracked by astronomers, allowing them to study the hidden black hole that influences their movements.

The black hole, known as Sagittarius A* (pronounced “Sagittarius A-star”), cannot be seen directly, but its nature can be inferred from the pattern of motion of the stars that surround it. Details of the research are published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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Reinhard Genzel, of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, who led the international study team, said: “Undoubtedly the most spectacular aspect of our long term study is that it has delivered what is now considered to be the best empirical evidence that supermassive black holes do really exist. The stellar orbits in the galactic centre show that the central mass concentration of four million solar masses must be a black hole, beyond any reasonable doubt.

“The centre of the galaxy is a unique laboratory where we can study the fundamental processes of strong gravity, stellar dynamics and star formation that are of great relevance to all other galactic nuclei, with a level of detail that will never be possible beyond our galaxy.”

Full article here [1]


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URLs in this post:

[1] London Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article5316001.ece

[2] Front row seats to the greatest show in the solar system: Milky Way’s black hole to consume giant gas cloud that will be seen across the galaxy: http://www.prisonplanet.com/front-row-seats-to-the-greatest-show-in-the-solar-system-milky-ways-black-hole-to-consume-giant-gas-cloud-that-will-be-seen-across-the-galaxy.html

[3] Magnetic mega-star discovery challenges black hole theory: http://www.prisonplanet.com/magnetic-mega-star-discovery-challenges-black-hole-theory.html

[4] New ‘life in space’ hope after billions of ‘habitable planets’ found in Milky Way: http://www.prisonplanet.com/new-life-in-space-hope-after-billions-of-habitable-planets-found-in-milky-way.html

[5] Astronomers discover biggest black holes ever: http://www.prisonplanet.com/astronomers-discover-biggest-black-holes-ever.html

[6] First cosmic census estimates there are 50 BILLION planets in Milky Way: http://www.prisonplanet.com/first-cosmic-census-estimates-there-are-50-billion-planets-in-milky-way.html

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