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The supermassive black hole known as "Sagittarius A *" (or Sgr A *) has been watched by scientists for years. Although this space giant was relatively quiet due to a black hole, everything changed recently when it emitted an unprecedented amount of radiation.
An astronomer from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), shared a 2.5-hour timeframe of footage of the supermassive black hole Sgr A * with a record amount of glow around it. Researcher Tuan Do, whose team is studying this giant at the center of our galaxy at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, has noticed that it has become 75 times brighter this May.
Here is a timelapse of images over 2.5 hours in May @keckobservatorio of the supermassive black hole Sgr A *. The black hole is always changing, but this was the brightest we've seen so far in infrared. Probably even brighter before we started watching that night! pic.twitter.com/MwXioZ7twV
– Tuan Do (@quantumpenguin) August 11, 2019
His team published an article about their discovery in Astrophysical Journal Letters. The article says that although the Milky Way's own black hole, known as highly variable, has been observed in the near-infrared for more than 20 years, it has reached much brighter flow levels in 2019 than ever before.
What prompted the unprecedented space show remains a mystery. As noted by the astronomer, it is a hot gas falling to the black hole, before it crosses the event horizon, which makes space around it brighter as black holes do not emit light. He suggested that increased activity could be related to changes in the gas flow, but struggled to determine why it happened or how long it would take.
The researchers proposed several hypotheses. Their paper suggested that the possible physical origins of Sgr A *'s unprecedented brightness may be due to changes in the acre flow after a star passed near it in 2018 or even a delayed reaction to the approach of a dusty object in 2014.
Tuan Do reassured everyone on Twitter, saying "what's going on with the black hole won't affect the Earth" because it's 26,000 light years, or 260 trillion kilometers away. Apart from this, it is behind a vast amount of dust.
"Although it is very bright compared to historical data, it is not enough to touch us. Enjoy the fireworks and we hope to learn some fresh black hole physics!"