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.
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“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).