"Black Hole Milky Way" by Gallery of Space Time Travel / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Black Hole at the Center of the Galaxy Is Forging a Strange New Kind of Star

Jan 15, 2020

By Brandon Specktor

Like most large galaxies, the Milky Way is glued together by a supermassive black hole at its center, buried deep in the constellation Sagittarius. Our galaxy’s supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A* (or Sgr A*), constantly pulls stars, dust and other matter inward, forming a stellar megalopolis 1 billion times denser than our corner of the galaxy.

Sometimes, stars closest to the black hole have to compete for space — and sometimes, a new study suggests, this competition becomes a strange and violent marriage.

In the new study, published today (Jan. 15) in the journal Nature, astronomers describe six mysterious objects swirling around our galaxy’s central black hole. According to the authors, these anomalous objects (dubbed G1 through G6) look like oblong blobs of gas several times more massive than Earth. However, they behave like small stars capable of passing perilously close to the black hole’s edge without being ripped to shreds.

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