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Here’s What It Means: The Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy is Pulsing Every 76 Minutes

The black hole named Sagittarius A* is fluctuating.

Researchers have made a fascinating discovery related to a black hole located more than 25,000 light-years from Earth and carrying a mass four million times greater than that of our Sun. Scientists recorded the supermassive hole “pulsing” at regular intervals of 76 minutes, similar to clockwork, as per a report in Science Alert.

The gamma-ray emissions from the black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, display periodic fluctuations, similar to changes observed in the black hole’s radio and X-ray emissions. This has led the scientists to posit the presence of an object orbiting the black hole.¬†

It is important to note that black holes do not emit detectable radiation, making their shadows invisible to telescopes. However, various events can occur in the intense gravitational environment surrounding a black hole’s event horizon. Astronomers have also observed fluctuations in the emitted light from the region around the black hole in multiple wavelengths, indicating significant variations in the strength of the emitted light over time.

In 2022, researchers found that radio waves exhibited a 70-minute periodicity. Additionally, a 2017 study revealed periodic X-ray flares from the black hole with a 149-minute cycle, almost double the periodicity of the radio waves and gamma rays.

In 2021, Sagittarius A* was linked to gamma radiation. Scientists discovered that approximately every 76.32 minutes, the black hole releases a burst of gamma radiation, which represents the “most energetic wavelength range of light in the universe”. The periodicity of the radio flare and the gamma-ray flare were found to be nearly identical. Moreover, the 149-minute periodicity of the X-ray flare is likely not coincidental, suggesting that it is a harmonic of the radio and gamma-ray periodicities.

The fact that the black hole itself does not emit radiation, combined with the regular and repeated periodicity, suggests the presence of an orbiting object. According to a 2022 study, this object is likely a mass of hot gas held together by a strong magnetic field that accelerates particles in a synchronous manner and emits radiation.

The orbital distance of this gas mass from the black hole is comparable to the distance of Mercury from the Sun, but it moves at a speed of approximately 30% of the speed of light, with an orbital period of 70 to 80 minutes. The researchers suggest that this interpretation is supported by the radio data, indicating that the gas mass emits light at various wavelengths.

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