Astronomers: Black Hole Getting ‘Hungrier’

September 17, 2019, 11:07 AM HST · Updated September 17, 11:07 AM
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An “enormous” black hole at the center of the galaxy is having an “unusually large meal of interstellar gas and dust,” according to a press release from the W.M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea. 

“We have never seen anything like this in the 24 years we have studied the supermassive black hole,” research co-author Andrea Ghez said. 

“It’s usually a pretty quiet, wimpy black hole on a diet. We don’t know what is driving this big feast.”

Ghez, who is also a professor at UCLA, heads the school’s Galactic Center Group, which analyzed more than 13,000 observations of the black hole since 2003. 

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The images were gathered by the W. M. Keck Observatory and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. 

This past May, the team found that the area just outside the black hole’s “point of no return,” or the part of the hole where matter can never escape once entered, was twice as bright as the next-brightest observation. 

The team also observed three large, “unprecedented” changes earlier this year, according to Ghez. 

However, as the release states, the black hole is about 26,000 light-years away and poses no danger to Earth. 

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