A side of a stray asteroid that occasionally flies past the earth, our little corner of the Milky Way seems to be quite peaceful. But in reality, our galactic neighborhood is held together by an army of the most destructive and mysterious beings in the universe: black holes. Now, for the first time, NASA has captured this frightening group in vivid color.
We first got an indication of how many black holes this group formed in April when a Nature article revealed that the center of the Milky Way hosts tens of thousands black people holes. In April, when Inverse interviewed Chuck Hailey, Ph.D., the co-director of the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory and lead author of this article, he explained that this swarm of black holes occupies only three light areas years before the supermassive blacks Loch is also in the center of our galaxy ̵
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Now, thanks to NASA, we no longer have to imagine what the gaping jaws of death look like in the center of the Milky Way. On Thursday, the space agency released a picture of the Black Hole Cluster, which it created from the data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
All black holes are totally invisible to us because they do not emit or reflect light – they simply devour it. Luckily, the region of space shown above is also inhabited by tons of stars, gas and dust for the black holes. In order for us to take pictures of these amazing, insatiable life suckers, they must constantly feed on these heavenly bodies.
As debris from nearby stars screws into a black hole, they form an accretion disk, which is a rotating disk of overheated particles. The debris in these panes heat up to millions of degrees and emit strong X-rays before they are forgotten. Telescopes like Chandra can record these distant X-rays, which are represented by the bright white spots in the image.
While this image, with its numerous white spots, appears more surreal than informative, astronomers can tell the relative sizes of some black holes by comparing their accretion disks. This also gives an insight into how these monolithic destructive forces are transforming the nucleus of our galaxy.
It is a sobering thought: If you ever feel stressed or saddened by small things on earth, remember that our existence is balanced by 10,000 to 20,000 black holes.