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Centre of Milky Way is teeming with black holes

07 April 2018

Either way, our galaxy's supermassive black hole should be surrounded by hundreds of stellar-mass black holes - at least.

The stellar black holes are in addition to - and essentially circling - the already known supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A, that's parked at the center of the Milky Way. These are binary star systems in which one of the components is a black hole and the other is usually a normal star. However, there are millions of white dwarfs in the galaxy.

The halo of gas and dust around Sgr A is thought to provide the ideal breeding ground for massive stars which collapse into black holes when they die.

How supermassive black holes grow so large is still controversial.

For decades, astronomers have looked for up to 20,000 black holes that previous research predicted should be concentrated around the Milky Way's core.

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The supermassive black hole lurking at the center of our galaxy appears to have a lot of company, according to a new study that suggests the monster is surrounded by about 10,000 other black holes. The team speculates these must be the first observational signs of the long-theorized "cusp".

The Milky Way has one.

Thus far, efforts to locate black holes have centered around watching out for bursts of X-rays that are given off periodically as matter falls into their gaping maws. In a new paper, published in Nature, a team of researchers report the discovery of what seems to be about 13 black holes close to Sagittarius A*. Among other ways, these waves of gravity can be created by merging black holes. "So you have to separate out the boring X-ray sources from the fun stuff-the black holes". The intense x-ray emissions from these disks would be exceedingly faint when viewed from Earth's vicinity, sending only one photon apiece into Chandra's optics every five or 10 minutes. They searched for X-ray signatures of black hole-low mass binaries in their inactive state and were able to find 12 within three light years, of Sgr A*. Even if only six of the x-ray sources include a black hole, there are probably between 300 and 500 solo black holes orbiting within 3.3 light-years of the galactic core, Hailey and his colleagues figure.

IAC researcher Jonay González Hernández said: 'Theory predicts that these stars could form just after, and using material from, the first supernovae, whose progenitors were the first massive stars in the Galaxy'. "A discovery like this will always have consequences that we can not presently predict", he says.

A new study supports the prevailing theory of where some of the universe's most mysterious inhabitants - black holes - reside. Researchers combed through data made by the space-based Chandra X-ray Observatory.

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Hailey added that finding black hole binaries specifically in a relatively small area six light-years across is very hard.

Artistic depiction of a black hole "devouring" a star. It can be particularly tricky to distinguish between binary systems involving quiescent (minimally accreting) black holes and millisecond pulsars. "So how do you get these things?"

"The Milky Way is pretty big already".

Known as Sagittarius A (Sgr A), the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy is surrounded by a halo of gas and dust - believed to be the ideal breeding ground for huge stars that collapse into black holes when they die.

He thinks what they've found should help theorists make better predictions about how many cosmic smashups might occur and generate detectable gravitational waves.

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We know that active star formation is going on in the region of our galactic centre.

Centre of Milky Way is teeming with black holes