The Super-Massive Black Hole At Our Galaxy’s Centre Is Great At Killing Stars

The Super-Massive Black Hole At Our Galaxy’s Centre Is Great At Killing Stars

We don’t have to worry about the gigantic black hole at the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy — the scale of its machinations take place over millions of years. There is no doubt however that it is a powerful entity, one NASA recently discovered has the ability to snuff out entire stars with a blast of X-ray “wind”.

It’s a topic NASA talked about recently, but now the organisation has come to a few conclusions regarding the influence this wind has on the galaxy. It’s even put together a short video explaining the details, which you’ll find conveniently positioned above.

The X-ray wind is generated by the black hole “ingesting gas as fast as it can”, causing its accretion disk (the ring of material swirling around the hole) to heat up “tremendously”. Some of the gas “accelerates away” due to this process and that’s what generates the blast of X-ray wind.

What NASA hadn’t quite figured is what effect the wind has on our galaxy, but it now has some ideas.

The wind’s shockwave is powerful enough to bust apart the very stuff stars are made of, delaying their creation or even stopping it altogether:

“This is the first study directly connecting a galaxy’s actively ‘feeding’ black hole to features found at much larger physical scales,” said lead researcher Francesco Tombesi, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). “We detect the wind arising from the luminous disk of gas very close to the black hole, and we show that it’s responsible for blowing star-forming gas out of the galaxy’s central regions.”

Star formation takes place in cold, dense molecular clouds. By heating and dispersing gas that could one day make stars, the black-hole wind forever alters a large portion of its galaxy.

I think the Sun will be safe for now, seeing as it’s already a star, but in a few million years? Might want to draw the shades.

[NASA, via CNET]