Friday, November 02, 2018

Simulation of Material Orbiting Close to a Black Hole

There is a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, now named Sagittarius A* (pronounced “a-star”). We can't actually see it, but we are getting enough data to know what's happening over there. From that data, astronomers from the European Space Observatory have constructed an animated simulation of the stuff swirling around the black hole.
Astronomers collected the data for the visualization using an instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, located in the deserts of northern Chile. The instrument, appropriately named GRAVITY, detected flares of infrared radiation coming from the disk surrounding Sagittarius A*. The researchers believe the bursts originated very close to the black hole, in an incredibly tumultuous region known as the innermost stable orbit. Here, cosmic material is slung around violently, but it remains far away enough that it can circle the black hole safely without getting sucked into the darkness.
Don't worry, the Earth is far enough away from Sagittarius A* so that we won't be sucked into it anytime soon. Read more about Sagittarius A* at the Atlantic.

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