Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The largest ever X-ray flare from the Galactic Center has been detected - Was it Cloud G2?

Don't get too excited, as this event occurred back in September, 2013. This information comes from the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Seattle, Washington, USA. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory released an article a day ago discussing these new findings. Within the article they mention that scientists caught the largest ever X-ray flare that has been seen from the galactic center, or what is also known as the black hole at the center of the milky way.

Scientists say that the light which came from this event, was 400 times brighter than the usual X-ray output from that region of space.


So what do the astronomers think caused it? There are two possible theories. One is based upon an asteroid coming too close to the galactic core and which might have been torn apart by gravity. The second is that that the magnetic field lines within the gas flowing towards Sgr A* (Galactic Center), could be tightly packed and become tangled.

The second brightest ever recorded X-ray event from the Galactic Center was recorded about a year later, in October 2014. The light was about 200 times brighter, so twas half as powerful as the observed light a year before.

The article from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory goes to say that researchers do not think Gas Cloud G2 was responsible for the first recorded X-ray event, back in September 2013. Cloud G2 was closest to the Galacitc Center around April 2014. However, Dr. Paul LaViolette did theorise that there could be a window of time, after that period, where if tidal stripping occurred, an object such as a star or dwarf planet could get pulled into the Galactic Center from Cloud G2. The window of time he gave was 4-5 months after April.

One thing is for sure, there is a bit of activity being observed at this galactic center, but there is likely a whole lot going on which is not being detected by us back here on Earth.


Sources
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2015/sgra/

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