Tech UPTechnologyMysterious objects discovered in the heart of the Milky...

Mysterious objects discovered in the heart of the Milky Way

They look like compact gas clouds, but they behave like stars, what are they? Mystery. After analyzing the data collected by the WM Keck observatory in Maunakea (Hawaii) for 12 years, the group of astronomers who have examined these cosmic oddities still do not venture to put a label on them: “they are objects that move extremely fast and close to the center galaxy of the Milky Way . It is fascinating to see them move year after year. They sure have an interesting story to tell us, ”explained Anna Ciurlo, from the University of California at Los Angeles, who led the study. Their findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, held in Denver.

The first two galactic anomalies, called G1 and G2, were first detected in 2004 and 2012, respectively, and, from the beginning, have puzzled scientists: they were apparently gaseous clouds, but they were too close to the supermassive black hole it occupies. the heart of our galaxy. Because according to the calculations of the experts, they could not have survived the massive gravitational pull of the singularity. Perhaps they are, the researchers point out, hypertrophied stars, so large that the attractive force exerted by the black hole only traps fragments of matter from their atmospheres and leaves their nuclei intact. We would then find ourselves before inconceivably huge objects. Why?

A strong hypothesis is that it is the merger of two mutually orbiting stars, an ancient binary system that formed a single ultra-energetic entity precisely due to the destabilizing influence of the black hole. For perhaps a million years or so, astronomer Mark Morris, the co-director of the research, surmises, the resulting object inflated like a balloon, then took on the appearance of a star.

Three other suspects

What also makes these enigmatic objects peculiar is the dense halo of dust and gas that surrounds them and prevents their direct observation. Scientists have only managed to “strip them” with a new instrument from the WM Keck observatory, called OSIRIS-Volume Display , which operates in the infrared electromagnetic spectrum. OSIRIS made it possible to calculate the structure of the formations and their speed relative to the supermassive black hole using 3-D computational models.

In addition, the analysis of the data reveals that there are three other sources of infrared radiation that could come from as many unidentified galactic oddities, which have already been dubbed G3, G4 and G5. Astronomers will continue to look at suspects, especially when they are closer to the center of the Milky Way. If they survive the abrasive encounter, then they would be in the same family as G1 and G2.

The astronomers ask for patience of the interested parties, because that will happen in twenty years, in the case of G3, and several decades later in the case of the other two candidates. Meanwhile, Morris says, “they will follow the dynamic evolution of these cosmic mushrooms” with OSIRIS-Volume Display software. Everything you find out about the 5 Gs will help us understand what happens in the center of the Milky Way, an environment, in the words of Ciurlo, “exotic and extreme.”

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