This false-color image shows the central region of our Milky Way Galaxy as seen by Chandra. The bright, point-like source at the center of the image was produced by a huge X-ray flare that occurred in the vicinity of the supermassive black hole known, as Sagittarius A*, at the center of our Galaxy.
Michael Nowak, a research scientist at MIT Kavli and co-author of a new paper in the Astrophysical Journal, said:
“Suddenly, for whatever reason, Sagittarius A* is eating a lot more. One theory is that every so often, an asteroid gets close to the black hole, the black hole stretches and rips it to pieces, and eats the material and turns it into radiation, so you see these big flares.”
“Everyone has this picture of black holes as vacuum sweepers, that they suck up absolutely everything. But in this really low-accretion-rate state, they’re really finicky eaters, and for some reason they actually blow away most of the energy.
We’re really studying the great escape, because most of the gas escapes, and that’s not what we expect. So we’re piecing out the history of the activity of the center of our galaxy.”
Mysterious X-ray flares caught by Chandra may be asteroids falling into the Milky Way’s giant black hole.