There is a ‘supermassive’ black hole in the centre of the Milky Way that has compressed the mass of 4.5 million sun-like stars into a very small region of space. But before you panic about getting sucked into a vortex of nothingness, just know that the last “big meal” that the black hole enjoyed was about six years ago.
A research group, led by Indian scientist Rongmon Bodoloi, has for the first time ever been able to predict when this event took place.
In case anyone was wondering, big meal for such a supermassive black hole would be when it consumes a large clump of infalling gas.
Image source: Twitter
Rongmon, who hails from Assam, bagged NASA’s prestigious Hubble Fellowship back in 2015 and has been working on his research in inter-galactic space matter at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) along with his team.
In a press statement issued by NASA, Rongmon talks about the significance of this discovery by noting, “For the first time, we have traced the motion of cool gas throughout one of the bubbles, which allowed us to map the velocity of the gas and calculate when the bubbles formed. What we find is that a very strong, energetic event happened 6 million to 9 million years ago. It may have been a cloud of gas flowing into the black hole, which fired off jets of matter, forming the twin lobes of hot gas seen in X-ray and gamma-ray observations.”
Thankfully, according to the researchers, the black hole hasn’t exactly been starving itself as it has since enjoyed eating mostly “snacks”.
Rongmon, who was the first person from Assam to have received the Hubble Fellowship, primarily studies the evolution of galaxies. At the time, he had chosen MIT to be his host university to further his research.
This particular development has been hailed as a significant breakthrough in space research by the scientific community.