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Space’s Deepest Secrets: Massive black hole in the middle of our galaxy

Supermassive black hole consuming nearby starImage credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Artist impression of a supermassive black hole consuming nearby star. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Tonight Space’s Deepest Secrets looks at the massive black hole that at the center of our galaxy.

It is thought that nearly all very large galaxies have supermassive black holes at their center, including the Milky Way.

But how do you even go about seeing something that is by its very nature almost impossible to observe directly?

Light that crosses a certain point in a black hole called the event horizon cannot escape – but the black hole can been seen in another way.

Their immense gravitational pull drags matter from nearby stars and gas clouds. This causes it to swirl around emitting light and vast amounts of energy that can then be detected with telescopes.

The short video below from the team at the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory explains this pretty well.

What is even more interesting is that scientists now think there could thousands or even millions of ‘silent’ black holes in our galaxy, those that are not actively pulling material from nearby objects.

Watch Space’s Deepest Secrets tonight at 10 PM on Science Channel.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray

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