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Mysterious X-Ray flares at Sag A*,



Mysterious X-ray flares caught by Chandra may be asteroids falling into the Milky Way’s giant black hole. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/F. Baganoff et al.; Illustrations: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

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I would like to remind everyone, that our particular black hole at the center of this Galaxy is frequently referred to as ‘quiet’. i.e. Nothing much happens there and it is therefore quite difficult to get any real information about it.

This has changed recently:

“For the past several years, the Chandra telescope has detected X-ray flares occurring about once a day from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. These flares last a few hours with brightness ranging from a few times to nearly one hundred times that of the black hole’s regular output. What could be causing these unusual, mysterious flares? ”

A video showing the ‘pulsing’ emissions as photographed by Chandra coming from the black hole.  Wow, actual video.


And this little tidbit about past ‘encounters’.  I have never seen nor heard about this before!

“This scenario would not be limited to asteroids and comets, however. Planets thrown into orbits too close to Sgr A* also could also be disrupted by tidal forces, although planets in the region are less common. And of course, if a planet was consumed, it would create an even larger flare; and this may have occurred about a century ago when Sgr A* brightened by about a factor of a million. Chandra and other X-ray missions have seen evidence of an X-ray “light echo” reflecting off nearby clouds, providing a measure of the brightness and timing of the flare.”

Ok, so again, this has occurred in the past!  What will happen when the newly observed cloud of matter mentioned in other posts gets there?

“Very long observations of Sgr A* will be made with Chandra later in 2012 that will give valuable new information about the frequency and brightness of flares and should help to test the model proposed here to explain them. The team said this work could improve understanding about the formation of asteroids and planets in the harsh environment of Sgr A*.”


Don’t forget about the new satellite NuStar, just sent up to look for X-Ray emissions.  You can bet that at the end of 2012, this is what it will be watching.


So, what is happening? they don’t know.  Of course not:  Here is a link to the scientific paper that explains how/what they think is causing these recently observed flares:

published in November 2011.  Although technical, it offers many, many insights into what is being observed and what may be happening:  Lets review the highlights:

  1. They speculate that these asteroids must be at least 6 miles wide and come within 1 AU of the black hole. (distance of the Earth from the Sun).
  2. That one of these sized asteroids does this once a day, every day, for 14 billion years.  (they assume this is the norm for all time, and not just a recent occurrence).
  3. That when they do, they produce one of the popular explanations of what a flare is. (see below)
  4. Planet or Sun sized interaction occurs every 10^5 years. (100,000 years).
  5. They propose that just such an event occurred @ 300 years ago and that the echo can be seen on Sgr B2.  This is a molecular cloud 390 light years from Sag A.   This indicates that the effects of such an event travel at or near light speed.  Wow.
  6. Sag A is ‘famously dim in all frequencies’.  In other words, very quiet, no light, no emissions, nothing is the norm.
  7. Flares occur daily in the infra-red and then followed by X-Rays.  This does not match the above historical statement.  Things have changed.
  8. There is NO UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED MODEL for these flares. But the one I like is:
    1. “A blob of relativistic plasma, threaded by a magnetic field, is suddenly created in the accretion flow around Sag A and then proceeds to move outwards while simultaneously expanding at a prescribed velocity.  This leads to an evolution of the optical depth of the plasma, which in turn causes different parts of the emission spectrum to appear different at the time of the flare, leading to time lags between emission maximums and characteristic light curves for the various spectral bands.”
  9. Within the inner few AU distance from the black hole, it must contain some gaseous accretion flow at all times.
  10. An asteroid (or planet or star) would move through this gas at near relativistic speed (read light speed).  Moving through this gas will make the temperature of the asteroid about 3900 degrees Kelvin.  It would start to evaporate at about 10 AU.  To be observable, it must pass within 1 AU.
  11. If a planet the size of Jupiter where to wander close to the black hole, Sag A would brighten for tens to hundreds of years!  It would be 10^39 times as bright (1 with 39 zeros).


The Gas Cloud approaching Sag A is at minimum 3 times as massive as EARTH and possibly as large as the SOLAR SYSTEM.  It will pass within the 1 AU limit mentioned above.  It will be visible when it happens.  We will receive the radiation from the event.


Backs up EVERY, SINGLE thing I have said so far about this upcoming event that started this whole WATCH THIS SPACE!


Will post more when there is more, and there will be more….


PS: Found a few more articles…


Most powerful eruption in the UNIVERSE

January 5, 2005

The eruption lasted 100,000,0000 years and each bubble on either side is 600,000 light years across.  6 times the size of our entire galaxy.

“The discovery of this eruption shows X-ray telescopes are necessary to understand some of the most violent events in the universe.”

The size of the flare is proportional to the size of the mass involved.  This is your outer limit case in point.



An Intriguing, Glowing Galaxy

May 14, 2009

A supermassive black hole may be responsible for the glowing appearance of galaxy 3C 305, located about 600 million light years away in the constellation Draco.
Read more at:

This entire Galaxy is glowing, and we can see it from 600,000,000 light years away.  We are only 26,000 light years away from our center!



Outflows from Centaurus A

January 28, 2009

Colour composite image of Centaurus A, revealing the lobes and jets emanating from the active galaxy’s central black hole.
Read more at:

“Centaurus A hosts a very active and highly luminous central region, caused by the presence of a supermassive black hole, and is the source of strong radio and X-ray emission.

Measurements of this emission, which occurs when fast-moving electrons spiral around the lines of a magnetic field, reveal that the material in the jet is travelling at approximately half the speed of light. In the X-ray emission, we see the jets emerging from the centre of Centaurus A and, to the lower right of the galaxy, the glow where the expanding lobe collides with the surrounding gas, creating a shockwave.”

This is the closest giant Galaxy.  That shockwave you see is ‘outside’ the Galaxy itself.  That is a big shockwave.



Black hole caught in Stellar Homicide

June 12, 2012

“( — This computer-simulated image shows gas from a star that is ripped apart by tidal forces as it falls into a black hole. Some of the gas also is being ejected at high speeds into space.

A flare in ultraviolet and optical light revealed gas falling into the black hole as well as helium-rich gas that was expelled from the system. When the star is torn apart, some of the material falls into the black hole, while the rest is ejected at high speeds. The flare and its properties provide a signature of this scenario and give unprecedented details about the stellar victim.
Read more at:

This is Galaxy PS1-10jh  It is 2,700,000,000 light years away and visible with ground telescopes.  Looks just like the computer simulation for what is happening at OUR Galaxy! (this is 10,000,0000 times farther away from us than our black hole).


The latest on the happenings at the Center of the Galaxy!  This whole series started with the article stating that a gas cloud was heading toward the black hole known as Sag A* at the center of the Milky Way and what that might mean (The Event).

June 27, 2012

The latest video from  ESO with some interesting graphics and discussion and is an easy way to get an idea of what this series is about:

Video will show a graphic example of what they think is happening and some actual photos over time.

The important bit to remember! The ‘cloud’ is now travelling at 8 Mkph.  Almost twice as fast as what they said 6 months ago and it is accelerating (of course it is, it’s approaching a black hole).  And. they are back to saying it is just gas, not a solar system.  But also, they say that no one knows what will happen next, certainly true.

It is now 36 light hours from the center (40,000,000,000 km, or 5000 hours, or 208 days, or about 6-7 months, which will be January/February 2013 at its current speed) .  It’s reasonable to assume it will only accelerate from this point forward. IT IS SPEEDING UP, so it will be there SOONER than this.

See UNIVERSE TODAY for a description of the information in the above video.


  • This thing is happening. RIGHT NOW.
  • It will reach it’s peak (nearest approach, or perigee), in January 2013 OR SOONER.
  • It is MASSIVE and it will do something both visible and X-RAY spectrums. MINIMUM.
  • You will see it, and hear about it in the coming months.

Wait, what will happen again if this occurs?  Watch this for a ‘simple’ explanation.

February 13, 2012

A short video produced by NASA / Harvard  Chandra observatory explaining how we get X-Ray flares from SagA* when any asteroid greater than 6 miles wide gets sucked in.  They estimate that there are TRILLIONS of them circling the black hole.

How stuff falls into the black hole.

I would expect just a ‘few’ of these asteroids and comets will tag along for the ride, wouldn’t you?


June 29, 2012

First light image for NuStar space mission

“With the successful “first light” images, the mission will begin its exploration of the most elusive and energetic black holes — as well as other areas of extreme physics in our cosmos — to help in our understanding of the structure of the universe.
Read more:

NuStar is a brand new satellite that was sent up to be an X-RAY telescope.  Since we know what it does and that SagA* will be putting out some serious X-RAYS (see video above), then we must assume that they will look for them.  They don’t say that in this article, but you can bet that they will.  I am sue our first updates on this event will be from this satellite.

March 16, 2009

A truly dark way to look at this information:  This youtube poster thought that the star 14 Sgr would be the catalyst of some material exchange at the black hole at the center of the Galaxy.  However, It is 2 light years from the galaxy core when it is at its perigee(closest) but that happens in 2017, not 2012 as he stated back in 2009.  So he is wrong about that.  This video was posted LONG before the information above was available and the video’s postulation that this star would be a catalyst was wrong, but, the idea is the same and the  observed data of the time is still correct.  The video shows many examples of galactic cores and how they behave (sometimes).

A short video done in 2009. There is more information here, but what we see is that the information (and/or worry) has been around a long time. This time, we actually KNOW something is approaching the black hole.


The scary stuff starts about 3:50 showing how energy bursts for black holes, the model for what happens when matter falls into a black hole.  Don’t think it can’t happen?, or for that matter, the effects even reach us?

Watch this video of the effects of a SINGLE STAR (right next to SgrA*) that created a super burst in 2004 and its effects on earth.

April 3, 2009 of an event that occurred December 17, 2004

The explosion that was halfway across the galaxy packed so much power it briefly altered Earth’s upper atmosphere. The event equaled the brightness of the full Moon’s reflected visible light,

This was a magnetar that created this burst. They are big, but no where near as big as a black hole!!!!!



Some history on the gas cloud;  Please see parts 1-7 on this blog history for more details!

First reported on December 14, 2011

This is the original article.  They have been watching this gas cloud since 2002, it is estimated be three times the size of Earth, and travelling at 5.2 mmph.  RIGHT AT SagA.  They expect it to be spectacular and arrive around Dec. 2012.

“However, since 2002, astronomers gazing through the Very Large Telescope have monitored a dusty gas cloud three times the mass of Earth zip at up to more than 5.2 million mph (8.4 million kph) in a straight line toward Sagittarius A*, putting out five times as much light as the sun as it speeds along. The cloud has now grown increasingly disrupted as it moves closer toward the black hole’s accretion zone — the region where matter begins its death spiral into the black hole.”

Milky Way’s Monster Black Hole Gets Colossal Meal


Then, a paper was published that describes this cloud as a ‘proto-solar system’, i.e. it contains a STAR and some rocky planets, surrounded by gas.  Many, many times more massive than Earth.

Updated paper December 20, 2011

For those so inclined:  Cornell University published the following PDF authored by Harvard/Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics describing this new information in detail.  Don’t bother reading if you don’t like math.


This gas cloud was then reported on again with this update, moving the date to mid-2013 and leaving the possibility that it could either be a cloud or a solar system.  We will see.

Updated reporting on December 26, 2011

We should soon find out whose explanation for the gas cloud is correct. The cloud, whatever its origin, is on track to swing past Sagittarius A* in mid-2013. If it’s a simple gas cloud, it will get torn apart and partly consumed by the black hole, temporarily brightening the radiation from around Sagittarius A*. If the cloud instead comprises debris from a protoplanetary disk, the star itself should cruise past Sagittarius A* largely unscathed. But the cloud will grow denser as more and more mass from the disk is dragged away from the star. Either way, it ought to be quite a show.

Newfound Gas Cloud Points to Possible Planets Near the Milky Way’s Black Hole

Scientific American


So, be safe!  Watch SagA* for updates, and there will be updates!


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