Milky Way's centre 'contains thousands of black holes'

07 April, 2018, 13:59 | Author: Patty Aguilar
  • NGC4565 LRGB a spiral galaxy 30-50 million light years from Earth

At the hearts of most, if not all, galaxies are supermassive black holes with masses that are millions to billions of times that of the sun.

But even in the Milky Way, finding black holes around the Galactic Center is tricky, despite the predictions, because they are so hard to detect. Trapped in its gravitational clutches, run-of-the-mill stars whip around this gargantuan black hole like fireflies in a hurricane. However, there are millions of white dwarfs in the galaxy.

It is surrounded by a halo of gas and dust in which massive stars are born. "The Milky Way is really the only galaxy we have where we can study how supermassive black holes interact with little ones because we simply can't see their interactions in other galaxies". "The galactic center is a odd place".

The Milky Way is growing and scientists now say it will expand into its neighbor Andromeda.

And these may turn out to be the best way to detect and study black hole populations in the centres of other galaxies, too distant for us to search using X-ray emissions. The team speculates these must be the first observational signs of the long-theorized "cusp". I asked her how many black holes you'd expect to see in a random, similarly sized patch of space someplace farther out.

What they found there: a dozen black holes paired up with stars, according to a report in the journal Nature.

For the first time, an worldwide 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*. Gravitational waves are ripples caused by the black holes colliding with each other. "If there's only 1,000 in the center, that's still 1,000 times more than we knew about before".

"The final step comes from theorists, who estimate that only about one in 20 isolated black holes will eventually find a companion star" to form a binary, Hailey explained.

"Black holes don't really emit much of any kind of radiation, except when they have a star as a companion, in which case they emit X-rays", Hailey said in an email to Seeker. The takeout shows the 12 black holes scientists spotted are actually black hole binaries, with the gas of a nearby star being transferred into the disk around the black hole as it moves toward the centre.

"Isolated, unmated black holes are just black-they don't do anything". "A discovery like this will always have consequences that we can not presently predict", he says. New research suggests there are thousands of black holes at the center of the galaxy. Predicted by Einstein more than a century ago, these elusive ripples in spacetime have only recently been observed, and the majority of detections to date have been traced to merging black holes billions of light-years away. "The star dumps gas into a disk around the black hole, and that disk is good at making X-rays". "So how do you get these things?"

Lead researcher Cristina Martinez-Lombilla said: 'The Milky Way is pretty big already. But when black holes mate with a low-mass star, the marriage emits X-ray bursts that are weaker, but consistent and detectable.

For more than two decades, researchers have searched unsuccessfully for evidence to support a theory that thousands of black holes surround supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the center of large galaxies.

"It is going to significantly advance gravitational wave research because knowing the number of black holes in the centre of a typical galaxy can help in better predicting how many gravitational wave events may be associated with them".


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