A new research led by an Indian scientist has found, the last meal that the super-massive black hole of the Milky Way had was six million years ago.
When black hole of the Milky Way consumed a large clump of in falling gas, it burped out a colossal bubble of gas weighing the equivalent of millions of suns.
With the help of the NASA’s Hubble Space telescope, Rongmon Bordoloi and his team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge found that several distant quasars can be seen through the northern half of the Fermi Bubbles, an outflow of gas expelled by the Milky Way galaxy’s hefty black hole.
The Hubble Space Telescope probed the quasars’ light for information on the speed of the gas and whether the gas is moving toward or away from Earth.
Based on the material’s speed, the research team estimated that the bubbles formed from an energetic event between 6 million and 9 million years ago.
“For the first time, we have traced the motion of cool gas throughout one of the bubbles, which allowed us to map the velocity of the gas and calculate when the bubbles formed,” Rongmon Bordoloi said.
About the Super-massive Black Hole:
A black hole is a dense, compact region of space with a gravitational field so intense that neither matter nor light can escape.
The super-massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy has compressed the mass of 4.5 million sun-like stars into a very small region of space.
“It could be a gas cloud falling in or even some stars orbiting near the galactic centre that fell in,” says the Scientist from Assam, who has been using NASA facilities like the Hubble Space telescope since his graduate school years.
According to him, the kind of gas flow observed is called a nuclear outflow.
“Such outflows are important regulatory mechanisms in the life cycle of a galaxy that controls that gas reservoir of a galaxy. If such outflows are too vigorous, it would mean that all the gas inside a galaxy would be kicked out and that would mean no new star-formation in the galaxy would occur.
On the challenges ahead, he says, “One big challenge is to actually see which theoretical predictions can explain the observations we see here. It is always fun to push our understanding of a subject by comparing the models with observation.
“Moreover, we are conducting new Hubble observations in this field, and hopefully they would also show some new surprising results.”