Amid all of the controversy and unease taking place in the world between China and the United States fighting over trade deals, political pariahs, and whatever the heck Russia is doing with nuclear weapons, there are plenty of reasons to be a little nervous in our modern age. At the drop of a hat, ballistic missiles could be inbound, the Yellowstone super volcano could erupt, or an earthquake could sheer California from the edge of American itself.
And let’s not forget about plague-like epidemics and mass unrest.
But those terrestrial worries mean little to the forces of the universe, outside of our atmosphere.
A reminder of our puny place in this world was provided to us this week, as NASA announced that the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, (our galaxy), has begun acting strangely.
The supermassive black hole that lives at the center of our galaxy has been mysteriously sparkling as of late, and nobody knows the reason.
This dark behemoth, known as as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), is four million times as massive as the Sun. Though no light escapes its boundaries, astronomers can observe the hole’s interactions with bright stars or dust clouds that surround it.
On the night of May 13, 2019, UCLA astronomer Tuan Do and his colleagues were watching Sgr A* using the Keck Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawai’i. In a period of just two hours, they witnessed the black hole become 75 times brighter in the near-infrared band of the light spectrum.
According to Mr Do, there are other telescopes that have been observing the black hole over the summer — and he is “eagerly awaiting their results”.
Speaking to CBS, astrophysicist at Harvard University, Shep Doeleman, claimed “jaws dropped” when scientist could focus on the black hole for the first time.
He said: “When we saw this coming to focus, our jaws dropped.
Scientists aren’t certain what caused the wild flare, but have speculated that a star many time the size of our sun may have made a close approach to Sgr A*, allowing the black hole to redirect its light.