Astronomers from UCLA’s Galactic Center Orbits Initiative have found some strange objects near the Milky Way’s central black hole.
It is the central supermassive black hole, deep in the constellation Sagittarius A, that keeps the Milky Way glued together.
The enormous black hole constantly pulls stars, gas, and other matter inward, forming a heavily populated region 1 billion times denser than our corner of the galaxy.
Recently, researchers have spotted a weird new class of objects not far from the black hole.
We are talking about six objects, named G1 through G6, that look like gas but behave like stars.
While some believe they are gas clouds, several times the Earth’s mass, others think they are more like small stars covered in dust.
The G objects usually appear compact, but they stretch out when their orbits bring them closest to the black hole.
Their behaviors are pretty confusing but the study’s authors think that all six objects are the result of binary stars that were forced together due to the strong gravity of Sagittarius A*.
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They now believe that black holes may be driving binary stars to merge. And mergers of stars may be happening in the universe more often than we thought and likely are quite common.
“Mergers of stars may be happening in the universe more often than we thought, and likely are quite common,” said co-author Andrea Ghez, UCLA’s Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics and director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group.
“Black holes may be driving binary stars to merge. It’s possible that many of the stars we’ve been watching and not understanding may be the end product of mergers that are calm now. We are learning how galaxies and black holes evolve. The way binary stars interact with each other and with the black hole is very different from how single stars interact with other single stars and with the black hole.”
According to the team, this research could explain the chaos that is happening in the majority of galaxies.
The new-found objects are also helping to explain how galaxies and black holes all over the universe evolve.