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Beast at galaxy core sits, lacking spin

New observations reinforce quiescent image of Milky Way's central black hole

2:27pm, December 7, 2010

HEIDELBERG, Germany — If it’s not as dead as a doornail, the gravitational monster at the Milky Way’s center is clearly lethargic. The galaxy’s supermassive black hole barely radiates, and certainly doesn’t hurl jets of material into space — signs that it has been on a starvation diet.

And a new study suggests that the central black hole barely spins, either.

Black hole spin doctors Avery Broderick of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto and his colleagues, including Avi Loeb of Harvard University’s Institute for Theory and Computation, base their tentative findings on millimeter-wave radio emissions from the galactic center recorded by a trio of radio telescopes. Collectively, the electronically linked radio dishes act as a single giant dish, or interferometer, enabling astronomers to start homing in on the black hole’s millimeter-wave emissions. That radiation penetrates the dust and

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