The Center of Our Galaxy is Swarming With Black Holes, Scientists Say

The Center of Our Galaxy is Swarming With Black Holes, Scientists Say

Kenneth Drake
April 5, 2018

A black hole that isn't eating appears as a single dark dot against an equally dark background, and as such, is nearly totally invisible. Searches for a small pulsar have failed, but it could be that the star cooked up super heavy elements that are decaying into ones never found on Earth.

Przybylski's Star, or HD 101065, is about four times the mass of the sun.

The other option would be that the bigger star formed in the disk of gas and dust that surrounds Sagittarius A, the black hole at the center of our galaxy.

Scientists have suggested for decades that lots of stellar black holes are circling in the center of galaxies, including ours.

Our Solar System is situated within one of the Milky Way's arms that emerge from the central galactic disk as the Milky Way is, in fact, what astronomers call a spiral galaxy.

Using data collected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory telescope, they found 12 black hole binaries within around 3.3 light-years from Sagittarius A*. The light from these galaxies is also stretched by the expansion of the Universe, increasing its wavelength to make it redder.

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.

"Everything you'd ever want to learn about the way big black holes interact with little black holes, you can learn by studying this distribution", said lead author Chuck Hailey, co-director of the Columbia Astrophysics Lab. "That's why people like to study it".

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Based on the sheer number of stars forming at the Milky Way's core, there should logically be a lot of black holes in a relatively tightly packed area of space.

Another theory is that massive stars, born in gas and dust that surrounds a supermassive black hole, implode to form black holes.

The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy about 100,000 light-years wide that harbors several hundred billion stars.

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, who wasn't part of the study, praised the finding as exciting but confirming what scientists had long expected. 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 amount of x-rays as the star's outer layer is sucked into the black hole.

So that's at least 20 isolated black holes for every binary black hole; if the lower estimate is about 500 binaries then there must be at least 10,000 isolated black holes.

This, Professor Hailey said, "is just the tip of the iceberg of all the black holes there".

In short, in the dense net of X-rays emission in the center of Milky Way, black holes were able to remain hidden in plain sight. Furthermore, black holes from outside the halo are believed to fall under the influence of a supermassive black hole as their energy diminishes, prompting them to be pulled near the celestial giant and held by its force. But mostly the centre of the galaxy is the flawless "hot house" for black hole formation, with lots of dust and gas.