Friday, September 6, 2013

Sagi the Finicky Eater


A while back now I put up information about the black hole at the center of our galaxy. To reintroduce that creature, its name is Sagittarius A* (read A-star). My post (here) reported that the hole was drawing, to itself, a vast cloud of gas. And the NYT story that I’d read and quoted there assured us cheerfully that Sgr A* will eventually eat the whole galaxy. I confessed problems believing that.

Well, the other day, we saw a story that appeared in Science, originating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The chief investigator was Daniel Q. Wang, professor of astronomy and leader of a team researching Sgr A* using NASA’s X-ray telescope Chandra. Wang and company discovered that this, our most potent black hole, actually rejects more than 99 percent of the matter flowing toward it. Why it does so—when other black holes are thought to be swallowing masses and masses of matter (or so they say, so they say)—is not yet understood.

Reading that I got to thinking about some future, galactically rich man who decides to commit suicide by plunging his rocket into Sagi’s center—and gets rejected as inedible.
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The image is NASA’s picture of the day today (link - but it may change tomorrow). It is titled The Quiet Sagittarius A*. The credit line reads: X-ray - NASA / CXC / Q. Daniel Wang (UMASS) et al., IR - NASA/STScI.

1 comment:

  1. The paradigms seem to be so bizarre... dark matter and black holes do not act like objects of our minds, but more like recalcitrant children who will not behave!

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