For much of my life, since young childhood, I have found explanations of the mysterious to be rather interesting and entertaining. As a result, gravitating toward science–chemistry, physics, astronomy, and cosmology–was somewhat a natural process.
As with most people, stories of creation tend to absorb a lot of my thoughts, but more so ideas of being and not being, something and nothing. Of course, the concept of time is next in the logical sequence–and with that, time travel.
They mysteries of black holes and the attempts to explain them, generally, intringued me, and continue to do so as of now. When black holes are mentioned, I immediately begin to ponder wormholes, time-warps, and intergalatic travel. Could it be possible to, in what seems an instant, whisk off into a place unimaginable or a time that may have been or will be? Could it all be “running concurrently?”
Discoveries like the one below stretch my thoughts as far out as the focus of this discovery–maybe even wider. Hey, my mind could possibly be a universe itself!
Gas cloud spirals into Milky Way black hole
Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have spotted a giant gas cloud being sucked into the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy.
The gas cloud, several times the mass of the Earth, is accelerating towards the black hole: over the last seven years, its speed has nearly doubled, and is now more than eight million kilometers per hour.
Right now, the cloud is much more dense than the hot gas surrounding the black hole. But as the cloud gets closer, it will be compressed by the increasing external pressure. At the same time, the gravitational pull from the black hole, which has a mass four million times that of the Sun, will continue to accelerate the inward motion and stretch the cloud out along its orbit.
“The idea of an astronaut close to a black hole being stretched out to resemble spaghetti is familiar from science fiction. But we can now see this happening for real to the newly discovered cloud. It is not going to survive the experience,” says Stefan Gillessen of the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik.
“The next two years will be very interesting and should provide us with extremely valuable information on the behaviour of matter around such remarkable massive objects,” says researcher Reinhard Genzel.