And in Other News from Outer Space …

Astronomers report that the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy (known as Sgr A*) is becoming more active. The black hole’s output varies a little across the electromagnetic spectrum on a daily basis, but over the last few years, Sgr A*’s X-ray flares have become more energetic.

Beowulf Shaeffer was unavailable for comment.

The Galactic Center

This visualization takes the viewer to the center of our Galaxy, the position of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole (Sgr A*). Supercomputer simulations using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory show the effects of dozens of massive stars with fierce winds blowing off their surfaces in the region surrounding Sgr A*. Blue and cyan represent X-ray emission from ultra-hot gas with temperatures of tens of millions of degrees. Red shows ultraviolet emission from moderately dense regions of cooler gas with temperatures of merely tens of thousands of degrees, and yellow shows cooler gas with the highest densities and lowest temperatures. Use the widget in the upper left corner to pan and tilt around the simulation.

Video Credit: NASA


G2 and SgrA*

This simulation shows the expected future behavior of the G2 gas cloud now approaching Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Detection of x-ray emissions from the cloud’s tidal interaction with the black hole is expected sometime early this year.

Video Credit: ESO / MPE / M.Schartmann

More from the Galactic Center

This sequence of images from the X-ray Telescope aboard the Swift satellite shows changes in the central region of the Milky Way galaxy from 2006 through 2013. Watch for flares from binary systems containing either a neutron star or q black hole and the changing brightness of the galaxy’s central black hole Sgr A*.

Video Credit: NASA