Centre of Milky Way is teeming with black holes

Distant star Icarus captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in galaxy

Distant star Icarus captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in galaxy

However, there are millions of white dwarfs in the galaxy.

Hailey explained that Sgr A* is surrounded by a vast halo of dust and gas, which is a prime location for massive stars to form. Scientists have suspected that this core region may also contain numerous smaller black holes tightly orbiting the supermassive one, but they've lacked evidence of such a swarm-until now. As many as 20,000 black holes are predicted to settle in the central area of our galaxy (and all spiral galaxies) but so far, these black holes haven't been observed, and neither has their gravitational effect, despite astronomers' best efforts - that is, until now. In such binary systems, the black hole may be tearing apart its partner, giving off radiation in the process. The team speculates these must be the first observational signs of the long-theorized "cusp".

Based on this, they calculate that galaxies like the Milky Way are growing at around 500 metres per second, fast enough to cover the distance from Liverpool to London in about twelve minutes. Scientists think that only 5 per cent of black holes have stellar companions, which means 10,000 black holes of this size could exist in the central bulge.

Their results, published in the journal Nature, were obtained by sifting through 12 years of archive data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which has been in orbit around the Earth since 1999. This supermassive structure, called Sagittarius A*, is four million times more massive than our sun. "There hasn't ever been much controversy about this idea, because it's just an inevitable outcome of simple Newtonian dynamics", Morris says.

The problem with this theory is that, until now, it's been exceptionally hard to prove.

Chuck Hailey, the study's lead author and professor of physics at Columbia University, said finding black holes in space is an arduous task for astronomers. From this data, they extrapolated that there must be several hundred more paired black holes and about 10,000 isolated ones, NPR reported.

Siphoned off by the black hole's gravitational pull, the star's outer layers will pile up outside the black hole's maw in a spiraling, steadily glowing disk. The term is used to signify the velocity at which a galaxy is moving away or hurtling near the Earth by studying the compression and stretching of the light incident from the other galaxy. "If there's only 1,000 in the center, that's still 1,000 times more than we knew about before".

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These findings support a decades-old theory regarding black holes.

Astronomers have previously looked for black holes that are gravitationally bound to a companion star, which can provide fuel for very bright X-ray outbursts - but such eruptions are rare. These stars live, die and could turn into black holes there.

With the help of proper motion, researchers at the Space Telescope Science Institute began a research in 2012 to measure the sideways motion of the Andromeda galaxy. Black hole hunting is kind of fun in its own right too.

When the captured star has a low mass, the binary emits X-ray bursts that are weak but consistent and easier to detect. "So how do you get these things?"

Martínez-Lombilla said, "The Milky Way is pretty big already. And it shows that the universe is really full of galaxies".

There is already a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way now scientists have found many smaller ones. "There are other esoteric ways to search for them, like when a black hole passes through a gas cloud it would leave an X-ray trail".

"All the information astrophysicists need is at the centre of the galaxy".

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