The discovery of wobbling „hotspots“ circling the drain of a massive black hole offers exciting new evidence for the behemoth that lies at our galaxy’s center — and the astronomer who first worked on this theory shares how 13 years of observations have finally paid off.
By Samantha Mathewson | SPACE.com
The new study, involving the work of by Avery Broderick, an astronomer from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, revealed three flares, or visual hotspots, emanating from the Milky Way’s central black hole, also known as Sagittarius A*.
The team detected a wobble of emissions coming from the flares, allowing the scientists to detect the accretion disk — a growing mass of orbiting gas and debris — surrounding the black hole itself. In turn, the researchers were able to use the emissions to map the behavior of Sagittarius A*, Broderick told Space.com. [Images: Black Holes of the Universe]
Broderick’s black hole theory built on earlier research by two teams that studied the galactic center of the Milky Way in near-infrared. This included the work of Reinhard Genzel, an astronomer from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, as well as researchers Andrea Ghez and Mark Morris of University of California, Los Angeles. At the time, their work revealed that the center of the Milky Way wasn’t steady, but instead would drastically brighten about once a day for about 30 or 40 minutes, Broderick said.