Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, suddenly awoke in the late 1800s, according to a Nature research.
According to the results, this black hole, which is 27,000 light years from Earth and four million times heavier than the Sun, awoke two millennia ago. Researchers say the celestial creature spent over a year swallowing cosmic objects before going dormant.
“Imagine a bear going into hibernation after devouring everything around it,” said research author Frederic Marin, according to AFP on Saturday.
“At least a million times brighter than it is today,” Marin said, the black hole was active in the late 19th century. “A single glowworm hidden in a forest suddenly became as bright as the Sun,” according to French researchers CNRS, as adjacent galactic molecular clouds began producing x-ray radiation.
Supermassive Black Hole in Milky Way Not Dormant
Astronomers followed this x-ray radiation and identified Sagittarius A* as the source using NASA’s IXPE. Marin said the black hole “emitted an echo of its past activity, which we managed to observe for the first time.”
The study’s findings interest experts, but the black hole’s resurgence’s cause is unknown. A star or gas cloud may have gotten too near, waking Sagittarius A*. Researchers hope the findings will reveal what causes black holes to become active.
Astronomers published the first photographs of the black hole’s bright gas ring last year, confirming its existence.
Black holes’ massive gravitational pull prevents light from escaping. After a large star dies, its core falls inward, forming them.