The galaxy is expanding every second, scientists

Distant star Icarus captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in galaxy

Artistic depiction of a black hole "devouring" a star.

Black holes are greedy. It's about 4 million times the mass of the Sun and resides in the Sagittarius A* region.

Astronomers have discovered that the center of our galaxy is swarming with black holes in what appears to be a Times Square for unusual supergravity objects.

Thus far, efforts to locate black holes have centered around watching out for bursts of X-rays that are given off periodically as matter falls into their gaping maws.

Astronomers have been working on a massive 3D map of what they call the infant universe.

Using data collected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory telescope, they found 12 black hole binaries within around 3.3 light-years from Sagittarius A*.

This cosmic posse, which could comprise more than 10,000 black holes in its entirety, was reported in Nature Astronomy today.

"There's lots of action going on there", said study lead author Chuck Hailey, a Columbia University astrophysicist. "The galactic centre is a unusual place".




Scientists released new research suggesting that the solar system's host galaxy, the Milky Way, is still growing.

The newly discovered black holes are within about 19.2 trillion miles (30.9 trillion kilometers) of the supermassive black hole at the center.

The halo of gas and dust around Sgr A is thought to provide the ideal breeding ground for massive stars which collapse into black holes when they die.

"Black holes with an accompanying star have a stronger X-ray emission but at the great distance from the galactic center it becomes weak", explains Hailey. While it's hard to view the outskirts of our Milky Way that are a huge distance away, the team managed to look at other spiral galaxies that are quite similar to our own - specifically looking at the edges of edge-on galaxies. There are stellar-mass black holes - the super-dense remnant left when a star more than eight times the mass of the Sun dies. Also, the ones spotted are only the type that are binary, where a black hole has partnered with another star and together they emit large amounts of x-rays as the star's outer layer is sucked into the black hole. As many as 20,000 black holes are predicted to settle in the central area of our galaxy (and all spiral galaxies) but so far, these black holes haven't been observed, and neither has their gravitational effect, despite astronomers' best efforts - that is, until now. Then, after becoming a black hole, it would have captured another star, giving birth to a binary system formed by a star and a black hole.

This, Professor Hailey said, "is just the tip of the iceberg of all the black holes there".

A new study points to evidence of thousands of black holes at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

First, their mass tends to pull them to the centre. "Finding large numbers of black holes is just really neat because it's just a larger population to study".

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