'Unprecedented' Bright Light Suddenly Flashed From Our Galaxy's Black Hole

With the help of a group of telescopes, VLT in Chile's Atacama desert and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, a team of astronomers spotted the brightest flash of a supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* in the center of the milky Way.

Astronomer Tuan Do from the University of California, Los Angeles stated in an interview, "I was pretty surprised at first and then very excited".

The sudden blast of brightness caused the black hole to grow 75 times brighter than usual levels, before returning to normal according to the scientists. The team captured a time lapse of the mysterious flash which summarizes two hours of observations into a couple of seconds. Currently, we do not possess the technology necessary to detect radiation emitted directly by black holes, but we can observe the effects its gravitational force has on the surrounding objects, causing huge friction, which produces radiation.

But the closest supermassive hole to Planet Earth has bucked that trend and has been observed glowing more brightly than at any other point in its recorded history. It's not an active nucleus, spewing light and heat into the space around it; most of the time, the black hole's activity is low key, with minimal fluctuations in its brightness.

Supermassive black holes are incredibly dense areas in the centre of galaxies with masses that can be billions of times that of the sun.

While this is nothing to worry about - Sagittarius A* is roughly 26,000 light years away from us - it is an exciting mystery for astronomers to resolve. Could it be a new black hole?

Regardless of what caused the enormous flash of bright light from the supermassive black hole, one thing is certain: It's a lot of fun to guess about what happened. There's also a gas cloud called G2 that swing around Sagittarius A* in 2014. According to the new paper, the recent flare brought Sgr A* to twice the brightness of the highest previous measurement to date. But they can still spew radiation from outside their event horizon, the result of interaction with gas and stars that come too close. The black hole was so bright I at first mistook it for the star S0-2, because I had never seen Sag A* that bright.

The Milky Way's spiral centers around a supermassive black hole.

However, the only way to find out is by having more data, which is being collected across a larger range of wavelengths.

There are only a few weeks left before the black hole will be visible from the Keck Observatory. The findings so far are presently in press with The Astrophysical Journal Letters and is available on arXiv.

The data differs from past observations of the black hole that have been collected in other studies.



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