Astronomers find four unknown objects in the center of the Milky Way, near the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A.
A team of American astronomers discovered four foreign objects in the center of the Milky Way, not far from the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A.
These four new objects are added to two others found in 2005 and 2012 and astronomers consider that they all form “very likely” the same class, considering that they could be binary stars merging.
As in most galaxies, in the center of the Milky Way there is a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A *.
It constantly attracts stars, dust and other matter inwards, forming a stellar megalopolis 1,000 million times denser than our corner of the galaxy.
There, astronomers have found six mysterious objects that look like elongated stains of gas several times more massive than Earth.
However, they behave like small stars capable of dangerously passing near the edge of the black hole without being torn apart.
According to the researchers, they could be a strange gas and star hybrid.
Based on their shape, orbit and interactions with the black hole, the researchers suggested that each object is a pair of binary stars, that is, two stars that revolve around each other.
These binary stars were crushed by the gravity of the black hole millions of years ago and are still spilling clouds of gas and dust as a result of the collision.
“Black holes could be leading binary stars to merge,” said Andrea Ghez, co-author of the study and professor of astrophysics at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The first two objects with similar orbits were discovered in 2005 and 2012, and received the G1 and G2 nomination. Astronomers examined how they orbited Sagittarius A *.
Despite the forecasts, when passing the event horizon of the black hole, the objects were not torn apart by the intense gravity, which had to happen in case these were clouds of gas.
The objects only deformed a little.
“It went from being a rather harmless object when it was far from the black hole to one that was really stretched and distorted at its closest approach,” Ghez said.
In the years after the meeting, G2 became more compact again.
The researchers suggested that something gravitationally powerful is holding the object together, which means it is probably a star of some kind.
The study authors spent several years studying the center of the galaxy from the W.M. Keck in Hawaii, looking for more potential objects of this type.
The team identified four new blood cells that fit the measure, each following a very different orbital path around Sagittarius A *, but showing similar characteristics to G1 and G2.
The new objects look like compact clouds of gas most of the time, the researchers said, but when their orbits bring them closer to the black hole, they deform and lengthen, just like the G2.
The most likely explanation is that G cells are products of binary stars that were softened by the gravity of the black hole, the authors wrote.
The number of observed G-type objects matches the expected percentage of binary stars in the center of the galaxy, they added.
In addition, because the stars take about a million years to merge, objects could have been born during the last known star formation event near Sagittarius A *, which took place about five million years ago.