London, UK (SPX) Jan 13, 2022 An international team of researchers, led by postgraduate student...
An international team of researchers, led by postgraduate student Alexis Andres, has found that the black hole at the centre of our galaxy, Sagittarius A*, not only flares irregularly from day to day but also in the long term.
Astronomers have known for decades that Sagittarius A* flashes every day, emitting bursts of radiation that are ten to a hundred times brighter than normal signals observed from the black hole.
To find out more about these mysterious flares, the team of astronomers, led by Andres, searched for patterns in 15 years of data made available by NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, an Earth-orbiting satellite dedicated to the detection of gamma-ray bursts.
The Swift Observatory has been observing gamma rays from black hole since 2006.
The frequency of flares increased again - the researchers had a difficult time distinguishing a pattern.
In the next few years, the team of astronomers expect to gather enough data to be able to rule out whether the variations in the flares from Sagittarius A* are due to passing gaseous clouds or stars, or whether something else can explain the irregular activity observed from our galaxy's central black hole.
Co-author Dr Jakob van den Eijnden, of the University of Oxford, comments on the team's findings: "How the flares occur exactly remains unclear. It was previously thought that more flares follow after gaseous clouds or stars pass by the black hole, but there is no evidence for that yet. And we cannot yet confirm the hypothesis that the magnetic properties of the surrounding gas play a role either."
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