G2 survives Milky Way center fly by


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The uncertainty of science: The gas cloud, dubbed G2, that was going to be eaten by the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way as it did a close fly-by this summer has instead turned out to be a massive star formed when the star’s of its binary system merged.

G2 survived the fly-by, produced no big fireworks which were what was predicted if it has been a gas cloud. The data now suggests that the object is instead a very big star formed when two stars merged.

Massive stars in our galaxy, [astronomer Andrea Ghez] noted, primarily come in pairs. When the two stars merge into one, the star expands for more than one million years “before it settles back down,” Ghez said. “This may be happening more than we thought; the stars at the center of the galaxy are massive and mostly binaries. It’s possible that many of the stars we’ve been watching and not understanding may be the end product of a merger that are calm now.”

Be warned that this new hypothesis about G2 has its own uncertainties. Better data might eventually find it to be something else again.

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