Mystery cloud ‘G2’ survives its encounter with Milky Way’s black hole
A cosmic gas cloud predestined for a deadly encounter with the gigantic black hole at the core of the Milky Way has survived and continued happily in its orbit.
The scientists believed that the mystery cloud dubbed 'G2' would rip apart from the black hole encounter, unleashing fireworks, but our galaxy's black hole did not swallow it. Instead, G2 survived.
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) astronomers published a new paper in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, offering a new explanation as to what G2 is and how it survived its black hole passage.
Since the discovery of G2 in 2011, it has been under a constant debate to weather it was a huge cloud of hydrogen gas or a star surrounded by gas. Now, with its survival, researchers have finally been able to solve the mystery.
The researchers suggest that G2 is not a gas cloud. Instead it is a pair of binary stars that had been orbiting the black hole in tandem and merged together into an extremely large star, cloaked in gas and dust.
They believe that G2 was the puffy outer atmosphere of a star, one with gravity strong enough to withstand the tug of a nearby jumbo black hole.
According to Andrea Ghez, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, it G2 were simply a cloud of gas, it wouldn't have enough gravity to stay together in the black hole's tidal field.
When G2 made its closest approach to the black hole and near 4th of July, astronomers were looking forward to watch the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy to tear apart G2.
But images from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and other telescopes revealed that it wasn't destroyed during its closest approach. This made the UCLA team clear that G2 must actually be a star.
Ghez said, "G2 is not alone. We're seeing a new class of stars near the center of the Milky Way as a consequence of the black hole. And we are now seeing phenomena about black holes that you can't watch anywhere else in the universe".
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