Thursday, September 04, 2008

Scientists closing on mysterious, "colossal object" at center of galaxy

There's something big, really big, lurking at the center of our galaxy, but scientists aren't sure what it is. The quiet beast, known as Sagittarius A, is 4 million times the mass of the sun, about 30 million miles across (one third the distance from the earth to the sun) and suspected to be a black hole, reports MSNBC.

Research funded by the National Science Foundation drove a cutting-edge, deep-space observation technique called "very long baseline interferometry," which combined readings from observatories in Hawaii, Arizona and California to reveal the latest details on Sagittarius A. Researchers have know of the so-called "A-star", but the latest data suggest it's heavier than originally projected.

The only "reasonable explanation" for an object the size of Sagittarius A is that it's a black hole. So why call it a star? Because it's (kind of) shining. How could a black hole shine? Two possibilities. One, theories suggest black holes fire a beam of particles (accelerated by its powerful magnetic fields) that emit "bright radiation." Two, the accretion disc around the black hole may be shedding radiation as well.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.