While light cannot escape a black hole, the bright sparkle of rapidly orbiting gas possesses its unique flicker. In the latest paper, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, Chris White of Princeton University; and Sean Ressler of the University of California Santa Barbara were competent to use this slight flickering to construct the most detailed model to date of our own galaxy’s central black hole named Sagittarius A* thereby delivering insight into properties like its structure and motion.
For the first time, experimenters have demonstrated in a single model the entire story of how gas trips in the center of the Milky Way, starting from being blasted by stars to plunging into the black hole. After going through the proverbial lines, the team inferred that the aptest picture of black hole feeding in the galactic center includes directly infalling gas from vast distances instead of slowly siphoning off of orbiting substance over a long period.
“Black holes are the gatekeepers of their own secrets,” stated Murchikova. “In order to better understand these mysterious objects, we are dependent on direct observation and high-resolution modeling.”
Ressler has expended years while struggling to construct the most practical simulations to find the date of the gas around Sgr A*. He has performed this by combining observations of nearby stars directly into the simulations and meticulously trailing the material that they shed as it falls into the black hole. His latest work was concluded in an Astrophysical Journal Letters paper in 2020.
“The result turned out to be very interesting,” explained Murchikova. “For a long time, we thought that we could largely disregard where the gas around the black hole came from. Typical models imagine an artificial ring of gas, roughly donut shaped, at some large distance from the black hole. We found that such models produce patterns of flickering inconsistent with observations.”