The centre of our galaxy is teeming with black holes, sort of like a Times Square for unusual super gravity objects, astronomers discovered. "A discovery like this will always have consequences that we can not presently predict", he says.
As black holes - the remnants of dead stars - gobble up matter, a particular type of X-ray is burped back out into the cosmos.
"So the best bet is to look at the steady X-ray emission from the black hole binaries, but these are less numerous". The term is used to signify the velocity at which a galaxy is moving away or hurtling near the Earth by studying the compression and stretching of the light incident from the other galaxy. The team suggests there could be hundreds of such black hole binaries at the centre of our galaxy and thousands of black holes without a companion star. Surrounding red dots are white dwarf stars.
For the first time, an global team of astronomers led by astrophysicist Charles Hailey from Columbia University in New York, US, has found have found a dozen of these stellar mass black holes within 3.3 light-years (about 30 trillion kilometres) of Sagittarius A*.
In order to prove the theory, the researchers began to look for black holes.
The astronomers were also careful not to be fooled by the many other intriguing X-ray-emitting objects at the galactic centre.
Extrapolating from this discovery, they then estimated that, in total, there must be around 10,000 isolated black holes and between 300 and 500 binary black hole systems-two-object star systems in which one of the components is a black hole-within three light-years of the Galactic Center. "That will be invaluable, especially for researchers trying to calculate the nature and number of gravitational wave events expected from galaxy cores".
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And where you find a supermassive black hole, astrophysicists predicted, you should also see clusters of stellar-mass black holes surrounding it, producing what's called a "density cusp". "If we could find black holes that are coupled with low mass stars and we know what fraction of black holes will mate with low mass stars, we could scientifically infer the population of isolated black holes out there".
As gravity takes over and eventually wins, it forms a singularity, a single point in space where gravity is so strong that no object - not even light - can escape its grasp once it crosses its boundary. "It won't be quick, but if you could travel forward in time and look at the galaxy in 3 billion years' time it would be about 5% bigger than today". "I am really excited to find that there are bunches of black holes in the galactic center", Hailey said.
Stars form as gas and dust succumb to gravity and fusion is ignited.
Sagittarius A* is surrounded by a halo of dust and gas that offers the ideal breeding ground for the birth of massive stars, which live, die and could transition into black holes there, Hailey said.
The newly discovered black holes are within about 30.9 trillion kilometres of the supermassive black hole at the centre. "Some of them were formed comparatively recently". But that means that the remaining half at least must be binary systems involving black holes - a class that have much rarer outbursts (usually many decades between them) and properties generally similar to those seen in the study.
HAILEY: Because they're so heavy, they naturally sink or gravitate towards the supermassive black hole in the center.
It'll be very interesting to see what happens next with this research, and what more can be learned both about black holes and about the center of our galaxy, from this exciting study.