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Gas cloud being ripped apart by the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way | ESO

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Published on Jul 17, 2013

Gas cloud being ripped apart by the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

These observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope, using the SINFONI instrument, show the behaviour of a small gas cloud as it passes close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. The horizontal axis shows the extent of the cloud along its orbit and the vertical axis shows the velocities of different parts of the cloud. As the cloud gets closer to the black hole it is dramatically stretched out and at the time when the cloud passes the closest point the velocity of the front is several million km/h different from that of the tail.

Credit: ESO/S. Gillessen
Music: Andrey Avkhimovich (CC BY Licence)

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