The center of the Milky Way is in a place you do not want to be. We have it pretty easy here on Earth to orbit our star and stay out of the way, but deep in the heart of our galaxy lurks a monster. It's a supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A * (pronounced "star"), and although we can not see it clearly, we know it's there, thanks to decades of scientific observations of our own galaxy and many others.
The black hole's appeal attracts almost everything, but near debris it has not yet swallowed orbits in a pattern known as the accretion disk. Recent research has shown that in addition to dust and superheated gases, a ring of comparatively cooler gases also hangs in the neighborhood.
The research published in a new article in Nature . describes this ring of cool gas that has never been discovered before, but "cool" may not be the best term for it. The gas is still incredibly hot at around 1
How the various gases – as well as the dust and other deposits in the accretion disk – accumulate and which mechanisms act in the disk remains a mystery. In the future, researchers will explore the inner workings of the Milky Way Black Hole area and, perhaps, learn more about how it all works.
"We were the first to map this elusive slice and examine its rotation." Elena Murchikova, lead author of the paper, said in a statement. "We also investigate the accretion of the black hole. This is important as this is our closest supermassive black hole. Nevertheless, we still do not have a good understanding of how the accretion works. We hope that these new ALMA observations will help the Black Hole reveal some of its secrets.