A Black Hole In The Center Of The Milky Way Found To Have Not Eaten For 6 Million Years, Astronomers Say

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Mar 16, 2017 12:09 PM EDT

A new astronomical finding by NASA has baffled scientists about the recent activity of a black hole found in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Hubble observations suggest that it has been 6 million years since this supermassive black hole swallowed a large clump of infilling gas that causes it to "burp" a massive bubble that weighs 2 million suns.

According to Astronomy, Rongmon Bordoloi from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led a team of astronomers to trace the structure and motion of the Northern Fermi Bubble which rises 23,000 light-years above the plane of the Milky Way. They used Cosmic Origins Spectrograph on Hubble Space Telescope to observe the ultraviolet light from 46 quasars. Likewise, the team also mapped out the motions of cool gas within the bubble to pin down its age.

The Milky Way's Fermi Bubbles are two large structures in gamma-rays above and below the Galactic center and are associated with the microwave haze at the center of the Milky Way. The bubbles were discovered in 2010 and were named after NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope that first spotted them.

Bordoloi told Mail Online, "We have traced the motion of the cool gas throughout one of the bubbles, which allowed us to map the velocity of the gas and calculate when the bubbles are formed." He also added that it may have been a cloud of gas flowing into the black hole which fired off jets of matter forming the twin lobes of hot gasses seen in X-ray and gamma-ray observations.

Quasars' light travels through the bubble that highlights the gas bubble itself. The cool gas in the northern Fermi bubble contains elements like silicon and carbon, were measured to be 2 million miles per hour and it reaches temperatures of 17,700 degrees Fahrenheit or 9,800 degrees Celsius.

The cool gas is more likely to be the gas from the disk of the galaxy that has been brushed up by and integrated into the flow itself. This gas measures up to 18 million degrees Fahrenheit or nearly 10 million degrees Celsius and thus, temperatures high as these, cause the gas to shine in an energetic light like gamma rays. Astronomers, through the gas direction of movement and velocity, also pinpointed the time when this gas starts moving.

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