Astronomers have explained the nature and predicted the death of the X7 object in the center of the Milky Way

(ORDO NEWS) — X7, the bright elongated filament at the center of our galaxy, is a cloud of gas and dust.

It is rapidly orbiting the supermassive black hole, being destroyed by its enormous gravity, and will be finally consumed as early as around 2036.

The Milky Way’s active center contains a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, with a mass of over four million suns.

Its surroundings are extremely diverse and restless: a star cluster surrounds the hole, where new stars are actively emerging, stormy gas and dust clouds rotate around it, and so on.

Telescopes allow us to see more unusual “G-objects” here, similar to short elongated threads. It is assumed that these are small clouds that move around the black hole.

One of them – X7 – stands out against the general background with rapid changes in its shape. Observations of it last only about 20 years, and during this time it has become much more elongated than at first.

New work by astronomers at the University of California, Los Angeles has confirmed that X7 is a cloud of gas and dust that swirls around a supermassive black hole and will be swallowed up by it in the next decade.

Astronomers have explained the nature and predicted the death of the X7 object in the center of the Milky Way 2
X7 changes between 2002 and 2021

To study X7, Professor Mark Morris and his colleagues used data from observations of the center of the Milky Way, which were conducted by the Hawaiian Keck Observatory since 2002.

They showed that the mass of X7 is about 50 Earth masses, and it is moving around a supermassive black hole at an ever-increasing speed, which has already exceeded 700 kilometers per second.

This allows us to calculate that it takes about 170 years to make a complete revolution in the X7 orbit. However, he, apparently, will not be able to make such a circle.

Under the influence of powerful tidal forces in the vicinity of the black hole, X7 is stretched and deformed.

Already now its length has reached three thousand astronomical units – the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.

Around 2036, the cloud will approach it at a minimum distance, after which it will disintegrate, and the remains will fall into the hole, creating a short and bright flash.

However, the origin of X7 remains unclear.

Morris and his co-authors believe that the cloud could have come from the merger of a pair of stars from the material of their outer shells, which was ejected as a result of this process.

In this case, somewhere in the depths of X7, the star formed during the merger should be preserved.


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