In the strange gravitational environment at the heart of our galaxy, astronomers have found a blob of gas orbiting our supermassive black hole at supersonic speed.
Its features help astronomers probe the space surrounding Sagittarius A* in search of answers about why the galactic center flickers and emits across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Their findings suggest that the black hole is surrounded by a clockwise rotating disk of material modulated by a strong magnetic field.
“We believe we are looking at a hot bubble of gas orbiting Sagittarius A* in an orbit similar in size to that of the planet Mercury, but making a complete loop in only about 70 minutes,” says astrophysicist Maciek Wielgus of at the Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany.
“This requires a staggering speed of about 30% the speed of light!” he said.
Sagittarius A* gained attention earlier this year when the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration revealed an image of the budding black hole.
Telescopes around the world worked together to make observations of the galactic center, which combined to reveal the ring of material swirling around Sgr A*, heated to incredible temperatures. One of the telescopes included in the collaboration is the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an array of radio telescopes located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, writes Science Alert.
The planet Neptune captured by the James Webb Telescope. What color is it, actually?
New images released Wednesday from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveal the planet Neptune and the planet’s elusive rings in fresh light. “It’s been three decades since we last saw these translucent, dusty rings, and this is the first time we’ve seen them in the infrared,” said Heidi Hammel, a Neptune expert and interdisciplinary Webb project scientist.
An ice planet
In addition to a few clear, narrow rings, Webb’s images show Neptune’s fainter dust lanes. Some of the rings have not been observed since NASA’s Voyager 2 received the first photographic evidence of Neptune’s rings during its flyby in 1989. Dark, cold and buffeted by supersonic winds, Neptune is a distant planet from our solar system. The planet and its neighbor Uranus are known as “ice giants” because their interiors are made up of heavier elements than the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, which are richer in hydrogen and helium.
In the new images, Neptune is white, as opposed to the typical blue appearance it has in images captured at visible wavelengths of light. That’s because methane gas, which is part of the planet’s chemical makeup, doesn’t appear blue to Webb’s Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) (see image HERE).
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