The Center of the Galaxy is made up of Thousands of Black Holes
A new study has concluded that the center of the galaxy is populated by thousands and thousands of black holes of all sizes.
At the center of the Milky Way, a monster lurks. Studying the galaxy from the lonely confines of Earth relies on circumstantial evidence and observation, but the science shows that at the heart of our galaxy, a supermassive black hole can be found – and a new study states that it isn’t alone. Not even close.
According to data collected from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory telescope, there appears to be thousands upon thousands of black holes in the center of the Milky Way. It’s impossible to estimate an exact number, but the new research suggests that there may be over 10,000.
Black holes are basically the scariest things in the galaxy. Sure, fear is subjective, but nothing escapes a black hole, not even light. Anything that crosses a black hole’s event horizon can never come back, and there are a few different ideas as to what it would be like.
Perhaps the most common theory of what would happen if someone were trapped in a black hole is that they would fall at the speed of light, but since everything else would be moving at the same speed, it would feel like time stopped – at least until you reached the singularity at the heart of the black hole and were compressed into a single point. But you probably wouldn’t have to worry about this, as the gravitational pull would have ripped you into molecules long before that.
There are still countless mysteries surrounding black holes, but it looks like we now have a centralized location to study them with the right technology.
Part of the problem in studying black holes is that they are nearly impossible to detect on their own. Most observations on a galactic scale are done by studying multiple objects and their relation to each other which is then confirmed by the signals those objects put out, but with a black hole there is no way to do that. The best scientists can hope for is to observe the effects of a black hole on another object.
Most black holes – at least the ones we’ve discovered – have a companion star that orbits it. That allows observers to spot the telltale x-ray emissions. In the recent study of the galactic core, the researchers looked for those x-ray signals from stars in an area roughly three light-years out from the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way. They were not disappointed.
The galactic center is packed with gas and dust, as well as a countless number of stars, and upon closer observation, the team found a dozen black holes in that relatively small area. By extrapolating from that number, the team concluded that there are likely around 10,000 black holes in the center of the galaxy alone. Up to this point, only around 60 black holes throughout the galaxy have been discovered.
This discovery should increase the amount of study of the center of the galaxy, although it’s not like scientists have ignored it until now, it’s just very hard to accurately research. That won’t stop them from trying though. It also tells us that the center of the galaxy is an unbelievably dangerous place, and if/when we have the technology to go there, we might want to give it a wide berth.