This is copyright protected, so just a glimpse.
August 17-18, 2013
“The black hole at the center of our galaxy has been on a near-starvation diet for almost a million years—but now it’s time for a snack.
Scientists in Garching, Germany, are closely watching a rare event some 26,000 light years away: a supermassive black hole in the act of devouring a huge gas cloud. It’s providing the first-ever glimpse of how a black hole uses its massive gravitational power to pull in and consume interstellar materials—a little understood phenomenon.
Representation of a supermissive black hole
“The cloud is being torn apart,” said Stefan Gillessen of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, who first brought the event to the world’s attention in 2011.
Stars closely orbiting the black hole indicate that it has the gravitational pulling power of four million suns. That gravity is now starting to act on the gas cloud, which itself is about 37 billion miles long. Using data from the European-funded [read, ESO] Very Large Telescope, or VLT, perched high up in Chile’s Atacama Desert, Dr. Gillessen’s team recently concluded that the front of the gas cloud is traveling 310 miles per second faster than its tail. About 10% of the cloud has already been dragged to the far side of the black hole.
‘In astronomy, you rarely have the chance to catch something in the act,’ said Andrea Ghez, an astrophysicist who leads a rival group observing the event at the University of California, Los Angeles. ‘We just don’t know what will happen.’
In January 2012, the Max Planck team published its findings in the journal Nature. They concluded that the blob was a gas cloud, of unknown origin, in the gravitational clutches of the Milky Way’s black hole.”
See the full article here.
The writer fails to mention that the VLT at Cerro Paranal, Chile is the flagship installation of European Southern Observatory, based in Garching, Germany.
He also fails to note that Dr Ghez was the 2012 winner of the prestigious Crafoord Prize in Astronomy, the equivalent of a Nobel prize. There is no Nobel for Astronomy.
Also, there is no mention of what instrument(s) are being used by Dr Ghez. I would assume that it is the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
Dr Ghez is a member of the team which will build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), on Mauna Kea. This instrument will compete with ESO’s Extra Large Telescope (E-ELT), which will be built at Cerro Armazones, Chile.
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