We orbit the Sun every year, but we also move very slowly on our journey along Sagittarius A*. This supermassive black hole is the center of our galaxy. With the naked eye you can never see this bottomless hole in the universe. Gravity at the center of the Milky Way is so strong that not even light can escape. However, scientists were able to take a picture of Sagittarius A*. What else do we know about this vacuum cleaner in the Milky Way?
1. Where is Sagittarius A* located?
Sagittarius A* is located in the center of the Milky Way. Everything in our galaxy revolves around the black hole, including our solar system and all its planets. Earth is 26,000 light-years away from Sagittarius A*.
2. How heavy is Sagittarius A*?
One black hole is larger than the other. For example, there are stellar black holes that are about twenty times the size of the Sun. Sagittarius A* falls into the category of supermassive black holes. How heavy is excess weight? Scientists have calculated that the mass of Sagittarius A* is 4.3 million times heavier than the mass of the Sun.
3. How did Sagittarius A* originate?
We have a good idea of how stellar black holes form. A star dies, a massive explosion (supernova) occurs, and then the star collapses under its own gravity. Results? Black hole. But Sagittarius A* is so large that this black hole probably did not originate from a supernova. No star is big enough for that.
How a supermassive black hole forms is still a mystery, but there are some theories. Sagittarius A* was probably originally much smaller and fed on gas and dust from the environment. So it got bigger and bigger. Another theory states that Sagittarius A* is a merger of several black holes.
4. How fast does our solar system revolve around Sagittarius A*?
It is known that it takes the Earth 365 days to revolve around the Sun. But our entire solar system also revolves around the Milky Way. Such a journey across the galaxy would take much longer. It takes us 225 million years to complete a full orbit around the center of the Milky Way.
5. Can the Earth be located in Sagittarius A*?
Since Earth floats 26,000 light-years away from Sagittarius A* in the universe, we are safe on Earth for now. Only objects in the immediate vicinity are swallowed by the black hole. This is a good thing. If you fell into a black hole, your limbs would be torn apart like strands of spaghetti.
Moreover, Sagittarius A* is not an aggressive vacuum cleaner attracting planets or moons. Research conducted by NASA’s telescope shows that Sagittarius A* briefly awakened from its slumber two hundred years ago, sucking gas and cosmic debris from the environment. Fortunately, our planet is floating too far away from the black hole to be sucked into the cosmic vacuum cleaner.
Willick Van Doorn studied journalism, traveled the world for a while, and eventually ended up in the editorial offices of Quest, National Geographic, and Runner’s World across the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. She is interested in the world, prefers to travel every month and always takes her running shoes with her.
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