The black hole at the center of our galaxy recently much brighter for a moment

Roygbiv95

Member
Jan 24, 2019
1,030
Well, recently as in about 25,000 years ago

Astronomers working out of the Keck Observatory in Hawaii have just announced that, in May of 2019, they observed the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy become 75 times brighter than it normally is. There’s been a ton of speculation regarding what the heck caused the burst in infrared light, but it seems like a lot of astronomers, including those that discovered the flash, think that the supermassive black hole may be… feeding.

Before discussing the recent observation, which was reported in a paper titled Unprecedented Variability of Sgr A* NIR and comes via Vice, it should be noted that this event took place in the distant past — the very distant past. That’s because the supermassive black hole being observed, dubbed Sagittarius A*, is a mind-bending 25,640 light years from Earth. Which means what we observed just a couple months back actually happened 25,640 years ago.

Now that that fact is out of the way, let’s talk about the supermassive black hole exploding with brightness. In the tweet above, Tuan Do, one of the lead researchers who discovered the flash, notes that the video is a time-lapse of images taken over two-and-a-half hours (from the Keck telescope). Do notes that this observation was taken from an infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that’s just out of the band of visible light that people can see with their pedestrian peepers.

As the flash is unprecedented, astronomers admit that they don’t actually know what caused it. But many of them, like Phil Plait,are guessing that the extraordinary increase in brightness was caused by either a subatomic particle “wind” that surrounds S2 (a star that orbits closely to the supermassive black hole), or perhaps G2, which is an unknown astronomical object that may be a dust cloud or a star surrounded by a dust cloud that also orbits near the black hole.

If this is the case, it’s fair to say that this increase in brightness is due to the supermassive black hole “feeding” on some form of dust surrounding it. This is one reasonable hypothesis because as a black hole feeds on matter, it lights it up to enormous levels of brightness due to the matter’s speed — the gargantuan mass of a supermassive black hole means that things that get near it increase in speed and turbulence (the matter bumps into each other) causing an increase in thermal radiation. And an increase in thermal radiation necessarily means an increase in electromagnetic radiation; in this case, infrared light. (We’ve all seen Predator, right?!)



Regardless of what caused the enormous flash of bright light from the supermassive black hole, one thing is certain: It’s a lot of fun to guess about what happened. Oh, and we’re also not in any danger from this event. That’s important to note too, probably.
Unprecedented variability of Sgr A* in NIR
 
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Joffy

Member
Oct 30, 2017
359
It doesn't matter how many times they tell me we're not in danger, a black hole still freaks me out
 

fanboi

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
3,164
Sweden
Question, if speed of light is the fastest we can go... wouldn't the speed of the gravity pull be higher then speed of light?
 
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Roygbiv95

Roygbiv95

Member
Jan 24, 2019
1,030
So after reading that article, it got me thinking about how Gargantua in Interstellar was critiqued a lot for being inaccurate due to appearing too bright. But based on that pic of an actual black hole that increased its brightness literally 75 times more (an insane amount which is clear just from viewing those photos and videos, though not sure how long it lasted), and the part of the article that mentions how an accretion disc can brighten up significantly depending on the random space dust or nearby stars or any sources of radiation that drift into it....does that criticism of Interstellar still hold or is it super accurate once again?
 
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BasilZero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,710
Omni
Imagine our solar system being sucked into the blackhole but we wouldnt know until 25,000+ years later.

lol
 

signal

Banned
Oct 28, 2017
18,057
So after reading that article, it got me thinking about how Gargantua in Interstellar was critiqued a lot for being inaccurate due to appearing too bright. But based on that pic of an actual black hole that increased its brightness literally 75 times more (an insanely huge amount which is clear just from viewing those photos and videos, though not sure how long it lasted), and the part of the article that mentions how an accretion disc can brighten up significantly depending on the random space dust or nearby stars or any sources of radiation that drift into it....does that criticism of Interstellar still hold?
Was the one in the film actually taking in gas? Otherwise you’d have to make it inflated for the comparison.
 
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Roygbiv95

Roygbiv95

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Jan 24, 2019
1,030
Was the one in the film actually taking in gas? Otherwise you’d have to make it inflated for the comparison.
I can't remember, I'll have to rewatch it again but pretty sure there was no star near it that it could be feeding on. Is it possible for an accretion disc to be as bright as the one in the film just via consuming subatomic particle wind and dust, as mentioned in the article? Would it result in an increase in brightness matching gargantua in the film, or possibly glow even brighter? And would it last only a short amount of time (the glow of Sgr A was recorded at about two hours) or is that variable?
 
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Funyarinpa

Avenger
Oct 26, 2017
7,892

jotun?

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,640
So after reading that article, it got me thinking about how Gargantua in Interstellar was critiqued a lot for being inaccurate due to appearing too bright. But based on that pic of an actual black hole that increased its brightness literally 75 times more (an insane amount which is clear just from viewing those photos and videos, though not sure how long it lasted), and the part of the article that mentions how an accretion disc can brighten up significantly depending on the random space dust or nearby stars or any sources of radiation that drift into it....does that criticism of Interstellar still hold or is it super accurate once again?
Really? I thought the appearance of Gargantua was the one and only thing they got right about it

The brightest objects in the universe are the accretion discs around black holes. They actually have a matter->energy conversion rate far greater than nuclear fusion
 

signal

Banned
Oct 28, 2017
18,057
Would it result in an increase in brightness matching gargantua in the film, or possibly glow even brighter? And would it last only a short amount of time (the glow of Sgr A was recorded at about two hours) or is that variable?
It can be brighter I think depending on the matter involved. I wonder what was "eaten" in thie case to cause that flare.
 

Laser Man

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,213
Light works differently there than here, that black hole might not even exist anymore... hell, we all might not exist and we wouldn't be the wiser because light is such a nonsene shitshow!
 

Emwitus

The Fallen
Feb 28, 2018
887
Well contemplate this. Maybe the universe has already ended. Billions of light years away


Edit: with my ignorance maybe the black hole warped photons from our side of space and sent it right back to us lol. Anyway, its crazy thinking about how far 25,000 light years away. Maybe that bleep was a distress call from a distant civilization cycling into a blackhole. Countless possibilities.
 
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