UCLA astronomers report they have detected remarkably stormy conditions in the hot plasma being pulled into the monstrous black hole residing at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, 26,000 light years away. This detection of the hot plasma is the first in an infrared wavelength, where most of the disturbed plasmas energy is emitted, and was made using the 10-meter Keck II Telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
Plasma is a hot, ionized, gas-like matter -- a fourth state of matter, distinct from solids, liquids and gases -- believed to make up more than 99 percent of the visible universe, including the stars, galaxies and the vast majority of the solar system.
"Previous observations at radio and X-ray wavelengths suggested that the black hole is dining on a calm stream of plasma that experiences glitches only 2 percent of the time," said Andrea Ghez, professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA, who headed the research team. "Our infrared detection shows for the first time that the black holes meal is more like the Grand Rapids, in which energetic glitches from shocked gas are occurring almost continually."
Stuart Wolpert | EurekAlert!
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