The center of the Milky Way may be filled with black holes | Science News

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A dozen new black holes found in Milky Way’s center

X-ray telescope data suggest thousands more are crammed into the galaxy’s inner region

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1:00pm, April 4, 2018
Milky Way

BUSIER THAN IT LOOKS  The center of the Milky Way, shown in this photograph from the Paranal Observatory in Chile, may be swarming with thousands of small black holes.   

The center of the Milky Way may be abuzz with black holes. For the first time, a dozen small black holes have been spotted within the inner region of the galaxy in an area spanning just a few light-years — and there could be thousands more.

Astrophysicist Charles Hailey of Columbia University and his colleagues spotted the black holes thanks to the holes’ interactions with stars slowly spiraling inward, the team reports in Nature on April 4. Isolated black holes emit no light, but black holes stealing material from orbiting stars will heat that material until it emits X-rays.

In 12 years of telescope data from NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hailey and colleagues found 12 objects emitting the right X-ray energy to be black holes with stellar companions. Based on theoretical predictions of how many black holes are paired with stars, there should be up to 20,000 invisible

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