Strange things at center of Milky Way


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Astronomers have discovered an additional four more weird objects orbiting the supermassive black hole, dubbed Sagittarius A* (pronounced A-star) for a total of six, all of which display behavior that is inexplicable.

Part of a new class called G objects, they look compact most of the time and stretch out when their orbits bring them closest to the black hole. Those orbits range from about 100 to 1000 years. “These objects look like gas and behave like stars,” says Andrea Ghez, director of the Galactic Centre Group at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and co-author of a paper in the journal Nature.

The new discoveries are known simply as G3 to G6. G1 was discovered by Ghez’s research group back in 2005, and G2 by astronomers in Germany in 2012. “The fact that there are now several of these objects observed near the black hole means that they are, most likely, part of a common population,” says co-author Randy Campbell, from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

It is not surprising that the intense gravitational field of Sagittarius A* rips these objects into elongated stretched objects as their orbits bring them close to the black hole. What is very very puzzling is their apparent ability to spring back to compact form as their orbits take them away from the black hole.

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7 comments

  • Phill O

    Would our star (in essence a ball of plasma) not act like that under intense gravitational fields?

  • Alex Andrite

    hmmm ….. sounds like Silly-Putty. Do they bounce ?

  • t-dub

    Seems logical, to me, that these objects would respond to changes in the space-time that they currently occupy and we know gravity does this thanks to Einstein.

  • Sippin_bourbon

    Just a thought. So the object actually elongate, or does the gravity of black hole simply bend the light, making it appear to elongate when seen from our vantage point.

    Also, does anyone know how long it takes the light to get here?

  • Joe

    Sippin_bourbon,
    I have the exact same thoughts, light is being stretched by gravity……..

  • wayne

    Sagittarius A* is about 25 thousand light-years from Earth.

  • Sippin_bourbon

    Thanks wayne.

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