Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Dozen black holes discovered at the Milky Way centre

This is an artist's impression showing the peanut shaped structure in the central bulge.		    Credit ESO  NASA  JPL-Caltech  M. Kornmesser  R. Hurt			  Close This is an artist's impression showing the peanut shaped structure in the central bulge. Credit ESO NASA JPL-Caltech M. Kornmesser R. Hurt Close
Derrick Tucker | 07 April, 2018, 14:00

The black hole at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, Sagittarius A*.

Finally, though, researchers at Columbia University have come up with a way to measure these distant black holes and to prove their existence. So, too, do astrophysical exotica such as neutron stars and white dwarfs-the remnants left by normal stars when they die.

Hailey explained that Sgr A* is surrounded by a vast halo of dust and gas, which is a prime location for massive stars to form.

How supermassive black holes grow so large is still controversial. That's why we say they are black. "The galactic center is a unusual place". But despite their predicted prevalence, these black holes are so dark and quiescent that they have been all but undetectable against the galactic center's stellar splendor-at least, until now.

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.

In our neck of the galaxy, x-ray binary systems aren't so common.

Black holes are one of the most fascinating objects in our universe. Across the decades, other theorists tackling the problem have arrived at similar estimates. "The only thing is, it has been really hard to prove".

For the first time, an global team of astronomers led by astrophysicist Charles Hailey from Columbia University in New York, US, has found have found a dozen of these stellar mass black holes within 3.3 light-years (about 30 trillion kilometres) of Sagittarius A*.

Combing through archival data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Charles Hailey at Columbia University in NY and his colleagues were able to finally tease out a signal that appears to be coming from 12 stellar-mass black holes that have sun-sized stars orbiting them.

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What Hailey finds particularly exciting is that the new findings could also aid in more discoveries and the study of gravitational waves, first seen in 2015.

In an effort to spot some of these black hole binaries, the team analyzed data that had already been collected by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in orbit around Earth. Scientists think that only 5 per cent of black holes have stellar companions, which means 10,000 black holes of this size could exist in the central bulge.

For the first time, astronomers have managed to confirm the existence of a black hole population surrounding the core of our galaxy. "A discovery like this will always have consequences that we can not presently predict", he says.

Astrophysicists are claiming to have confirmed there are about 10,000 black holes at the centre of the galaxy. They also used two space-based telescopes GALEX and Spitzer, which provided near-UV and near-infrared data.

Hailey added that finding black hole binaries specifically in a relatively small area six light-years across is very hard.

"It's an obvious way to want to look for black holes", Hailey said, "but the galactic center is so far away from Earth that those bursts are only strong and bright enough to see about once every 100 to 1,000 years". "The star dumps gas into a disk around the black hole, and that disk is good at making X-rays".

At the center of our galaxy lurks a supermassive black hole.

Martínez-Lombilla said, "The Milky Way is pretty big already". The balance of high-energy versus low-energy x-rays emitted by these sources "are consistent with those from low-mass binaries with black hole companions", she notes.

Some star-forming regions are found at the outer edge of the disc, and models of galaxy formation predict that the new stars will slowly increase the size of the galaxy they reside in.

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