Supermassive black hole in our Galaxy’s centre turned mysteriously bright

They hope to find out whether the black hole is more active than usual, or if something else accounts for the unprecedented brightness. Recently, astronomers caught it going absolutely bananas, suddenly growing 75 times brighter before subsiding back to normal levels.

Speaking to ScienceAlert, Tuan Do (an author on the study which spotted the bright light) said the flash could be the result of another star (S02) passing close by, thereby changing the way gas flows into the black hole.

Black holes are objects so dense that beyond a zone called the event horizon, their gravitational field warps space to the point that light can't escape. "I knew nearly right away there was probably something interesting going on with the black hole", the report said quoting Do.

But what? That's what astronomers are on a mission to find out. It's under constant observation with instruments like the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii used by the UCLA team.

In a video from the scientists, the flash, which lasted for more than two hours, is reduced to just a few seconds via a time-lapse.

Researchers believe that the odd "glow" may relate to gas clouds or stars which orbit the enormous black hole.

When we view that radiation with a telescope using the infrared range, it translates as brightness. Normally, the brightness of Sgr A* flickers a bit like a candle, varying from minutes to hours.

As per Gizmodo, the team of researchers recently observed a flash of infrared radiation that was brighter than had ever been observed in the 20 years of studying the black hole. Another cause could be a change to its accretion state-how the black hole is drawing matter inwards. As ScienceAlert reports, the research team has a couple of possibilities in mind. There's also a gas cloud called G2 that swing around Sagittarius A* in 2014. Even if it was a gas cloud, the proximity should have torn it to shreds and some of it sucked in by the black hole, but nothing happened. That's the mass of materials - including gases and dusts - that are drawn to the black hole but don't make it past the event horizon.

But - have a look at the timelapse again.

A burst of radiation has captured the attention of astronomers observing a supper massive black hole at the center of our galaxy. The visualization shows S0-2's close encounter with the black hole, as over a dozen other stars encircle Sagittarius A*. Last year, it made its closest approach, coming within 17 light-hours of the black hole.

S0-2 has been spotted a mere 17 light-hours away from the center as recently as previous year, and it's possible that the star's close relationship with the black hole has led to an increase in gas being swallowed up by it, which may have led to a burst of radiation visible using infrared. They are now being collected, across a larger range of wavelengths.

There are only a few weeks left before the black hole will be visible from the Keck Observatory.

Researchers say, though the event much brighter than any other observed in human history, it may have been even brighter than the data lets on since its peak brightness was captured at the start of the telescope's imaging.

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