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Using imagery from a variety of X-ray satellites, a team of Japanese astronomers created this image and announced that a massive flare erupted from our galaxy’s central black hole 300 years ago. "The black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, is a certified monster, containing about 4 million times the mass of our Sun. Yet the energy radiated from its surroundings is billions of times weaker than the radiation emitted from central black holes in other galaxies.

"'We have wondered why the Milky Way’s black hole appears to be a slumbering giant,' says team leader Tatsuya Inui of Kyoto University in Japan. 'But now we realize that the black hole was far more active in the past. Perhaps it’s just resting after a major outburst.'"

Click the image to see the story.

A black hole 4 million times the mass of our Sun. That thar's a derned big monster. Imagine the flare it must have launched.




( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 17th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
Well, a flare doesn't flare out from inside the event horizon, but energy such as x-rays do blaze out from a black hole's poles. A nearby supernova is blamed for this latest outburst, the energy from that blast super-energizing the matter falling toward the event horizon, which is the only part we can "see."
Apr. 18th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
To extend the explanation, space is big, and black holes are small, so as matter falls toward them, it's crunched and compressed, and releases a great deal of gravitational energy, which is radiated into space (except for a little that radiates in the direction of the black hole). When that radiation hits other matter in the vicinity, it can accelerate it to near-light speeds, which makes black holes one of many cosmic ray sources.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )