Sagittarius A* – The Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way

If my body is Universe, I have a black hole. I mask it, but it sits at the center of my body. I question it. Am I living up to my potential? Would I lose my creativity if I got help? Isn’t life a black hole? Claudia Turner

There are three prisons that once entered you can never leave – the future, hell, and a black hole. However, it is the latter – the black hole – which attracts so much scientific attention. These insatiable monsters lurk throughout the cosmos, a point in space where gravity is so strong even light cannot escape.

These mysterious phenomena are most often formed from a dying star, whose mass is so great that it collapses in on itself, deforming the fabric of space and time into a gravitational well. A prison from which even Pablo Escobar would struggle to escape…

At the center of our galaxy – the Milky Way – is a supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A*. It is SO large that it has mass millions of times greater than the Sun. But our galaxy is not unique; at the heart of most spiral or elliptical galaxies is always placed a supermassive black hole.

Over a decade ago, in 2008, astronomers completed a 16-year observation of the region, tracking twenty-eight stars, which all seemed to be orbiting the same invisible point. Typically, the stars are concealed by dust and gas, but the team at the European Southern Observatory were able to peer inside the dragon’s lair, by using infrared telescopes.
By tracking the movement of the stars, they could locate the enormous object around which they all rotated. Their predictions had been right. Something was lurking in the void.

Later, when scientists tried to measure this colossus, using Very Long Baseline Interferometry radio astronomy (try saying that after a few drinks 😂), it was estimated to be around 44 million km across – roughly the distance from Mercury to the Sun, with a phenomenal 4.31 million solar masses.

I see a bright
under the overhead light
that shades into
and then into darker
and I can’t see beyond that.
Charles Bukowski

Naturally, we cannot visualize the black hole itself; instead, we measure the radio waves, infra-red, gamma-rays, and X-rays emitted. These emissions didn’t come from the black hole, but near the event horizon. They are the last sign of any material about to be swallowed. Therefore, strictly speaking, Sagittarius A* isn’t a black hole, but rather a region nearby. Still, we know the monster is hiding somewhere out there, 26,000 light-years away, even if it is shrouded in dust and gas.

Death is like a Black Hole. Everything is silent in a grave. Khalid Masood

Black holes are often accompanied by quasars. These objects are billions of times brighter than the Sun (the brightest objects in the universe 🙀). They are formed when the material gets too close to the black hole, forming an accretion disk, which heats up to millions of degrees and gives off a phenomenal amount of energy. Due to the magnetic field of the black hole, twin jets spurt out material into space.

Quasars fuel a black hole; they are their acolytes. However, supermassive black holes don’t always need to eat. Sometimes they slumber for millennia. In the past, Sagittarius A* may have been active, but it no longer is. Though perhaps one day, the beast will awaken once more… get ready! 

OBS! Mysteries of the Universe

6 strange objects have been discovered close to the orbit of Sagittarius A*. They are a few hundred astronomical units away from the galactic center, look like gas, but behave like stars. The objects began to truly puzzle astronomers after one of them, named G2, was seen to make a close approach to the supermassive black hole in 2014. It had originally been discovered in 2011 (Germany), and the expectation was that it would be ripped to shreds and cause a flash of radiation… but INSTEAD, it was observed becoming elongated. While much of its gassy outer shell was torn apart, it survived and continued on its way, becoming MORE compact once again. It seems that some objects can be stretched and distorted but never killed!! 😉

Next post – The Principle of Sufficient Reason


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39 Responses

  1. masercot says:

    There is a theory that the reality we live in is in a black hole.

  2. And what of time, no wavelength, no discrete energy, no return – a black-hole tick, no tock?

  3. I found your post fascinating Victoria Ray. i hope that you continue to write more of this stuff.

  4. I am convinced we are in a black hole now! 🙄

  5. Pre COVID -19 I ate at a restaurent where the service was unbelieveably bad and the server rude. Rather than complain I did not leave a gratuity for the server. She immediately noticed and said, “How about my tip?” I said, “Stay away from black holes.” She was not amused.

  6. George F. says:

    Some people are emotional black holes. I know a few.

  7. librepaley says:

    Brilliant mix of science and nihilist literature. Feeling really small now – though not necessarily in a bad way…

  8. Simon says:

    What an amazing, terrifying and tumultuous universe we live in, so far away forces that would tear us to atoms and yet here we are on our little ball of rock spinning in space. What I didn’t appreciate until recently was the black hole shreds atoms themselves – what would happen if Sag-A became active again I wonder?
    As I’m a Saggitarius does that mean I’m a black hole?

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Haha 😂 love the last idea … I don’t know, I have to look into it – active Sagittarius A* – it’s actually cool idea but … I think we’ll end up by boiling or freezing 😼

  9. Sorryless says:

    I always have to question peeps who wish to turn back time. Because let’s face it, they’re dabbling in a patch of real estate that’s uber expensive and I don’t really think they have any idea as to how they would tend to it.

  10. Great post. Very informative. Have you watched the TV series, The Universe?

    Suggestion–I would rework this sentence:
    at the heart of most spiral or elliptical galaxies is always placed a supermassive black hole.

    A supermassive black hole is often found at the heart….

    • Victoria Ray NB says:

      Thank you & hope, haven’t watched… but I’ll check. 🕺🕺😺✌️

  11. I love this piece. It poses great questions.

  12. markbierman says:

    The mystery of space is unlimited. We think the earth and sun are large, however, they’re not even the size of an atom by comparison. This was a fascinatinating post, Victoria.