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Milky Way’s Black Hole is Getting Intensely Bright and Hungrier, and Scientists Are Wondering Why

If it's not stars, it could be asteroids.

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Updated:September 13, 2019, 3:32 PM IST
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Milky Way’s Black Hole is Getting Intensely Bright and Hungrier, and Scientists Are Wondering Why
The Milky Way is seen in the sky above a path and huts on Lady Elliot Island in Queensland, Australia. (File photo/Reuters)
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Ever since Black Hole’s existence has been proved, it has intrigued a number of scientists, who keep on looking forward to unfold the new pages of the chapter every now and then.

A day before Black Hole’s ‘No-Hair Theory’ was published in APS Physics, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have discovered that the Milky Way’s Black Hole, Sagittarius A*, is getting hungrier and intensely bright.

Usually known for being benign, the Sagittarius A* is consuming everything, unusually large amounts of dust and gas, which is coming in its way. Unfortunately, this consumption comes at the rate which is highest in the last 24 years.

“It’s usually a pretty quiet, wimpy black hole on a diet. We don’t know what is driving this big feast,” said Andrea Ghez, co-author of the study published in Astrophysics Journal Letters.

She also mentioned that one of the changes they observed was when the black shone 75 times brighter than usual on May 13. But that wasn't the only time. There were also two other nights this year when the team observed "unprecedented" changes in the black hole.

According to the researchers, these changes might be a result of Black Hole entering into a new phase altogether. However, if the black hole isn't changing and it's only an unusual amount of gas and dust, the scientists have three possible explanations for the phenomenon.

One reason for the massive brightness could be the star S0-2. It is said that when the star approached the black hole in 2018, a large quantity of its gas could have been pulled towards it, which only reached the black hole this year.

The second explanation can be a set of binary stars called G2. If it's not stars, it could be asteroids. If a large enough asteroid was caught in the black hole's gravity, it's possible that it could be the cause of its large meal.

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