NASA has spotted an anomaly in the Milky Way Galaxy black hole, and as of the present, scientists with the organization have no definitive answers on what it might be.
According to a report from CNet, the Chandra X-ray space observatory “recorded an X-ray flare from the center of the Milky Way’s black hole (a vortex known as Sagittarius A* or Sgr A*) that was 400 times brighter than the energy usually emitted from the area.”
The initial incident occurred in September 2013, but NASA will be presenting documentation of it at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society this week in Seattle.
The Milky Way black hole is located at the center of the galaxy and contains a mass that is 4.5 million times larger than Earth’s sun.
The fact that the anomaly (seen above) is noticeable in such a large void “raises questions about the behavior of this giant black hole and its surrounding environment,” NASA states.
So is this how the end of the world begins or should we as citizens of planet Earth be concerned?
Unfortunately, the answer at present is, who knows. NASA does have its theories, though, and if one of these is correct, then it doesn’t seem too concerning.
First up, scientists believe that an asteroid may have ventured too close to the black hole and was “ripped apart” by the gravitational force.
“If an asteroid was torn apart, it would go around the black hole for a couple of hours — like water circling an open drain — before falling in,” said researcher Fred Baganoff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a statement. “That’s just how long we saw the brightest X-ray flare last, so that is an intriguing clue for us to consider.”
In the second theory, NASA scientists believe that the burst may be caused by magnetic energy contained in the gas flowing into Sgr A*, getting tangled and releasing the X-rays in a pattern similar to what happens with solar flares.
The final prognosis, however? Uncertainty.
“The bottom line is the jury is still out on what’s causing these giant flares from Sgr A*,” said researcher Gabriele Ponti of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany. “Such rare and extreme events give us a unique chance to use a mere trickle of infalling matter to understand the physics of one of the most bizarre objects in our galaxy.”
What do you think NASA has observed in the giant black hole? Do you think it’s cause for concern?
[Image Via NASA]