360° Coverage : Herschel find hot gas falling into Milky Way's black hole

Herschel find hot gas falling into Milky Way's black hole

Scientists with the European Space Agency have identified an interstellar gas cloud that appears to be following into the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy.

May 7 2013, 9:27am CDT | by

Herschel find hot gas falling into Milky Way's black holeGalaxy
Photo Credit: European Space Agency

PARIS, France – Super hot molecular gas is being drawn into the black hole located in the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

The discovery, made by the European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory has identified a diverse amount of simple molecules in the vicinity of the super-massive black hole that inhabits the center of the galaxy, which is home to the Earth. Analysis of spectrographic data collected by Herschel has indicated that carbon monoxide, water vapor and hydrogen cyanide compose the interstellar medium orbiting the black hole.

“Herschel has resolved the far-infrared emission within just 1 light-year of the black hole, making it possible for the first time at these wavelengths to separate emission due to the central cavity from that of the surrounding dense molecular disc,” says Javier Goicoechea of the Centro de Astrobiología, Spain, and lead author of the paper reporting the results. “The observations are also consistent with streamers of hot gas speeding towards Sagittarius A*, (Sgr A*), falling towards the very centre of the Galaxy. Our Galaxy’s black hole may be cooking its dinner right in front of Herschel’s eyes.”

Scientists say the biggest surprise was the temperature that molecular gas reaches in the center of the galaxy. Estimates state that some of the gas is 1000 degrees Celsius hotter than the average interstellar gas cloud, which are usually a few tens of degrees above -273 degrees Celsius, which is absolute zero.

“The observations are also consistent with streamers of hot gas speeding towards Sgr A*, falling towards the very centre of the Galaxy,” says Dr Goicoechea. “Our Galaxy’s black hole may be cooking its dinner right in front of Herschel’s eyes.”



Via the European Space Agency.

 
 
 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/19" rel="author">Jeffrey B. Roth</a>
A multi-award winning writer, Jeffrey B. Roth is a well-known investigative reporter, who covers crime, law, politics, sciences, business, medicine, education, history and a wide range of other topics. In 2010, Roth won first place for a new series in the Keystone Press Awards, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. A published short story writer and poet, Roth is listed in the Locus Index of Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors. Currently, Roth writes for CBS Philadelphia, CBS Baltimore, the Philadelphia Examiner and regional publications, including Carroll Magazine, Carroll Business Quarterly and Hagerstown Magazine to name a few. In the past, Roth, a former crisis intervention counselor and teacher, has written for numerous Pennsylvania newspapers, state and national magazines and the Associated Press. He lives in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, west of Gettysburg, Pa.

 

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