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Journey to the Galactic Center

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Published on Dec 14, 2008

The center of our Milky Way Galaxy, located about 27,000 light years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, is occupied by a supermassive black hole. This black hole contains over 4 million times the mass of our Sun in an area smaller than half the orbit of Mercury. Matter accreting into the black hole is heated up to millions of degrees, which makes the area shine bright in radio and infrared waves. This radio source is called Sagittarius A*; the black hole itself cannot be seen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagittar...

Over the past 16 years, astronomers have tracked a full orbit of a star, S2, around the black hole. At it's closest point (perinigricon), S2 comes to within 17 light-hours of the black hole. From studying the Keplerian motions of S2 and other stars near the Galactic Center, astronomers have determined that these stars must be under the influence of an enormously massive, compact object. The only celestial object that could meet those requirements is a black hole. A huge black hole.

This video begins with a picture showing the central 3 light years (central parsec) of our Galaxy. It then goes into a full zoom from our viewpoint to the Galactic Center, then shows the orbits of various stars around the black hole.

Credit: ESO
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap081211.html

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