Researchers have detailed two different studies this week with black holes, one focusing on the black hole that is in the center of our galaxy, another that is in the middle of a galaxy that is millions of light years away. Although they are far apart, these two black holes have something in common: they are both hungry, as evidenced by their unusual consumption habits. Researchers with UCLA say that the black hole in the center of our galaxy has a "big party" unlike what was previously observed.
The first of the two reports comes from UCLA, where researchers have studied the super-massive black hole located in the middle of Milky Way. According to astronomers, this black hole is the most hungry it has been in the last 24 years of observation and it is currently feasting on dust and interstellar gas.
Usually, the researchers explain, this super-massive black hole has a relatively thin diet. It has changed, with researchers who have observed several times this year periods when the point of returning outside the black hole has glowed strongly, three changes called outstanding. The increased activity may be due to a nearby star called SO2 or a binary system named G2.
The second report comes from NASA, which says that a black hole located in the center of a distant galaxy called GSN 069 sweeps up the nearby matter at a very rapid rate. This is also a super-massive black hole, one that has been observed to consume the amount of material corresponding to four of the Earth's moon about three times each day.
Put in numbers – ones that would be hard to understand – it's about a million billion kilos of material that goes into the super-massive black hole every time it eats. ESA's Giovanni Miniutti says the diet is "like we've never seen before," an "so rare that we had to coin a new term to describe it."
This term is "x-ray periodic eruptions" and it was first discovered in GSN 069 in December last year. Student co-author Margherita Giustini said: "We believe that the origin of the x-ray emission is a star that the black hole has been partially or completely torn apart and is slowly consuming bit by bit."