After years of speculation, a mysterious object lurking near a monster black hole at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy has finally revealed itself to astronomers.
Known only as G2, the object was believed to be a giant hydrogen gas cloud three times the size of Earth. However, it turns out that it is in fact a pair of massive stars that had been circling the black hole and actually collided with each other to form one extremely large star. The discovery waspublished today in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Having studied the trajectory of G2 for years, the thinking was that it was on a collision course, and would eventually be sucked into the supermassive black hole sitting at the centre of our galaxy some 30,000 light years from Earth.
The much-anticipated cosmic feast of G2 was expected to occur this past summer. But to to the surprise of astronomers who were eagerly watching, the object somehow survived being gobbled up by the stellar predator. Expectations were that falling into the mouth of the black hole would result in a 10,000-fold brightening due to the release of intense radiation.
It was this radiation that astronomers were looking for as a sign that the black hole had devoured its victim. But the light show never happened.
“G2 survived and continued happily on its orbit … a simple gas cloud would not have done that,” said co-author of the study, Andrea Ghez, an astronomer at University of California in Los Angeles, in apress statement.
“G2 was basically unaffected by the black hole. There were no fireworks.” See more at yahoo