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Hot gas bubble spotted spinning around Milky Way black hole

On Thursday, astronomers reported seeing a hot gas bubble whirling at "mind-boggling" speeds around the black hole at the centre of our galaxy.

About 27,000 light years away from Earth, the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* lurks in the centre of the Milky Way, and its powerful gravitational pull is what gives our galaxy its distinctive spiral.

The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which connects radio dishes around the world in an effort to catch light as it vanishes into the mouths of black holes, unveiled the first-ever photograph of Sagittarius A* in May.

Chandra Space Telescope saw a "big surge" in X-rays just before ALMA's radio data collecting started, Wielgus told AFP.

According to the study's primary author Wielgus, the gas bubble, also referred to as a hot spot, had an orbit that was comparable to Mercury's journey around the Sun.

While Mercury needs 88 days to travel that distance, the bubble completed it in about 70 minutes. That indicates that it moved at a pace of about 30% of the speed of light.

The bubble might only have survived a few orbits before being destroyed, but the scientists were able to track it for around an hour and a half using their data.

The phenomenon is hypothesised to occur when a black hole's mouth has such a potent magnetic field that it prevents material from being drawn into.


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