Thursday, December 15, 2011

Supermassive black hole will 'eat' gas cloud

[ via BBC News / Science & Environment ] 14 Dec

Researchers have spotted a giant gas cloud spiraling into the supermassive black hole at our galaxy's centre.

Though it is known that black holes draw in everything nearby, it will be the first chance to see one consume such a cloud.

The cloud, which is described in Nature, should meet its end in 2013. The researchers have  plotted the cloud's squashed, oval-shaped path and estimate it has doubled its speed in the last seven years - to 2,350km per second.

The acceleration of the cloud's constituent material will create a shower of X-rays that will help astronomers learn more about our local black hole. Read full story for more on the rare pehenomenon about to take place.

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