Astronomers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have solved the mystery of the bizarre object called G2 at the centre of our Milky Way that has for centuries puzzled them as the most likely pair of binary stars that had been orbiting the black hole in tandem and merged together into an extremely large star, cloaked in gas and dust.
UCLS astronomers studied the object called G2 during its closest approach to the black hole this summer. “G2 appears to be just one of an emerging class of stars near the black hole that are created because the black hole’s powerful gravity drives binary stars to merge into one,” said Andrea Ghez, professor of physics and astronomy in the UCLA college.
“G2 was basically unaffected by the black hole. There were no fireworks,” Ghez noted. The movement of G2 is being determined by the black hole’s powerful gravitational field, showed research.
Earlier, astronomers believed G2 was a hydrogen gas cloud headed toward our galaxy’s enormous black hole. Black holes, which form out of the collapse of matter, have such high density that nothing can escape their gravitational pull – not even light.
They cannot be seen directly but their influence on nearby stars is visible and provides a signature, pointed out Ghez. When two stars near the black hole merge into one, the star expands for over 1 million years before it settles back down, noted Ghez.
“We are seeing phenomena about black holes that you cannot watch anywhere else in the universe,” Ghez added. “We are starting to understand the physics of black holes in a way that has never been possible before,” concluded Ghez.
The research was published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.