back to article Supermassive BLACK HOLE to stuff MYSTERY gas BLOB into open maw

At the centre of our galaxy, a black hole could be about to chow down on one of the biggest meals it's ever had - a mysterious gas cloud around three times the mass of Earth. A montage of the galactic centre by the Swift X-ray Telescope from 2006-2013. Credit: Nathalie Degenaar A montage of the galactic centre by the Swift X- …

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Linux

Got a link to that video? The Reg player failed for me!

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For me neither.

I'm gonna link the article to discussions on "weird science" websites as retaliation, then sit back while bizarre stuff appears in the comment section.

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Anonymous Coward

@Miek 13:58

It's about 40 seconds' work to get the link out of the page source, put it into a browser address bar and strip out the embedded player bit. Sheesh.

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"Bated breath", dammit

Yeah, I know, it passed the spell checker, it must be fine.

Christ.

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Re: "Bated breath", dammit

Too bad - I was hoping they'd tell us what kind of bait the modern astrophysicist uses to catch black holes...

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: "Bated breath", dammit

One of the best comic lines on Canada's former PM Jean Chretien, reputed to speak neither official language well, "I yam waiting with bait on my breath..............."

Credit to the Double Exposure satire duo.

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Joke

Nothing to worry about

The last time the SMBH had lunch was a few hundred million years ago. The X-Rays never hurt a fly did the....

.... You say what happened to the dinosaurs around then?

Okay, okay I'll put the tinfoil hat away.

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Anonymous Coward

Biggest meal?

Three times the mass of earth?

How did it become supermassive with millions of times the mass of our sun if the biggest meal it ever had would only be three times the mass of earth? I'm not an astrophysicist, but I somehow doubt that statement.

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Holmes

Re: Biggest meal?

I somehow doubt that statement.

I somehow doubt your reading abilities, as the "three times the mass of the earth" references the gas cloud, and the much much bigger number is the black hole's mass.

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Re: Biggest meal?

This is a cool article, but I agree that either I'm just not savvy enough to understand the intent of some of these statements, or the statements simply don't make sense:

"a mysterious gas cloud around three times the mass of Earth"; then, later in the article:

"But if G2 is hiding an old star, the display could be less dramatic, with the black hole only getting a few sips of the gas while the star passes by, dense enough to escape the event horizon."

Which is it? Is the cloud of gas ~3x the mass of Earth? Or does it contain a star, which by default makes it significantly larger than 3x Earth?

Or am I missing the point?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Biggest meal?

and why hasn't the cloud been sucked into the star that's hiding there?

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Re: Biggest meal?

Its the gas cloud that as 3 times the mass of Earth. Gas, by its very nature, takes up a lot MORE room than a solid does. So think on the mass of Earth, multiply it by 3, add in an expansion ratio, and there you go.

That's a pretty fucking massive amount of gas, wouldnt you agree? Almost super in scale, dontcha think?

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@ AC 16.43

Black holes can literally tear stars apart with their massive gravity.

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Dense enough?

with the black hole only getting a few sips of the gas while the star passes by, dense enough to escape the event horizon

"Dense enough"? Don't you mean "having sufficient momentum"?

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Re: Dense enough?

I was going to take issue with that as well, but you beat me to it.

If there's a star inside that miss the black hole, on what is the assumption that it'll "miss" the black hole based? That the star is in the exact center of the cloud? Can we assume that?

Have we ever observed a "local" black hole eating a star? That might be something to see. Is the center of our galaxy visible in the night sky in the northern hemisphere? It would be cool if something happened that made it visible to the naked eye. I'm sure those lucky aliens in other galaxies with active supermassive black holes have much more interesting stuff to watch. Well, until the gamma rays kill them, at least.

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Re: Dense enough?

"Is the center of our galaxy visible in the night sky in the northern hemisphere?"

Nope, the rest of the galaxy is in the way! You can’t observe it in the visible spectrum at all due to the volume of stars and dust in the way. The only way to observe it is via the higher frequencies (in this instance, x-rays).

Even if it were visible, the event wouldn’t be visible – it’s a black hole, the light emitted from it are x-rays.

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Re: Dense enough?

" it’s a black hole, the light emitted from the gas around it are in the x-ray frequencies."

Corrected it for you.

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Happy

Re: Dense enough?

Good point:

" it’s a black hole, the light emitted from the gas falling into it are in the x-ray frequencies."

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nit-picking

Hmm... there seems to be quite a few commenters here today who thought this was a pretty lousy article. And yes, I also used the "send corrections" link...

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Coat

They really need...

Beowulf Shaeffer to go and have a look.

(Well, that and the Quantum II Hyperdrive Shunt!)

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Won't this crash...

...have actually happened some 26,000 years ago?

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Re: Won't this crash...

Yes, now it is too late to start the OBAMARINGWORLD project.

We are all doomed.

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Look out!

What if it's just a fart and the black hole doesn't like the taste of it? I mean it could be laughing gas but what if it's not and it gets spit out right in our direction after the black hole's gravity compresses it? It could be the end of the earth...in 26,000 years or so.

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Re: Look out!

WRONG!

If thrown in our direction at near lightspeed, it would hit tomorrow.

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Re: Look out!

No, it wouldn't. Light speed means traveling at the speed of light, a light year is a measurement of distance based on how far light can travel in a standard earth year. Meaning anything "thrown in our direction at near lightspeed" would be here in some percentage more than 26,000 lightyears based on what fraction of the speed of light it was ejected at, but of course black holes don't typically eject matter at all as we understand them now...... I suppose something in just the right place going just the right speed and coming in at just the right angle could conceivably be drawn into a slingshot orbit by the gravity well by skimming just outside the point of no return, called the event horizon where no known particle can pass through without being trapped as gravity prevent even light from escaping when it enters that point, and come out accelerated to some ridiculous speed on a heading for our own solar system. A possibility so remote as to be functionally zero.

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Old News

What ever happened happened already about the time we humans were crawling out of the caves.

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Anonymous Coward

TFTFY

What ever happened happened already about the time we some humans were crawling out of the caves.

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Joke

Accretion disc

I had to loosen a few notches off of my accretion disk (belt) over christmas....

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