Friday, January 14, 2022

Clouds around our local supermassive black hole

This image taken by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows the region surrounding Sagittarius A* , the supermassive black hole lurking at the center of the Milky Way — marked here with a small red circle. New research has revealed evidence of the existence of interstellar gas and dust orbiting the black hole at high speeds.
The molecular hydrogen-rich clouds that have been identified are known as molecular nubecules and have never been clearly detected before. The image actually shows the distribution of carbon monoxide molecules, the second most abundant molecular component of nubeculae.

These nubecules are located about 26,000 light-years away from Earth, in fast and close orbit of the black hole, at a distance of about one light-year from this object. ALMA's high resolution allowed scientists to detect these nubecules, which resulted from pre-existing massive clouds swirling around the center of the galaxy. These clouds were broken up by tidal forces, giving rise to dense fragments and short-lived, lower-density components.synchroton radiation emitted by Sagittarius A* through diffuse gas existing between the nubeculae.
Although molecular gas clouds have the potential to form new stars, these nubecules are unlikely to give rise to baby stars, as their mass is relatively small — about 60 times the mass of the Sun — and they exist close to strong ones. and turbulent gravitational forces exerted by Sagittarius A*.

Although stars orbiting Sagittarius A* have been systematically observed, these dense molecular nubecules have not yet been detected so close to the center of our Galaxy .

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