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Milky Way

Our galaxy is the Milky Way, with the location of our solar system within it, and a supermassive black hole at its center.

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A Supermassive Appetite

A Supermassive Appetite

Credit: NASA/CXC/MIT/F. Baganoff, R. Shcherbakov et al.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chandra_image_of_Sgr_A.jpg

This false color image is of a supernova remnant that extends on either side of Sagittarius A* at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Sagittarius A* is thought to be the site of a supermassive black hole.

Amazing But True!

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Source: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/what-is-a-black-hole-k4.html#.Uvwbh87y0sj

The supermassive black hole is at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. This artist’s conception depicts what scientists think the galaxy looks like from above [Figure2]

• Like most or all other spiral galaxies, our Milky Way Galaxy has a supermassive black hole at its center.
• These black holes get energy from consuming solar system objects that they draw in with their massive gravitational pull.
• The consumption of a large object is evidence in x-rays, not other wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.

Show What You Know

1. Why don’t astronomers see the supermassive black hole consuming objects with a powerful optical telescope?
2. Why were telescopes that collect other wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation used to confirm the original observation?
3. What happens to an object that is “eaten” by a supermassive black hole?
4. What hypothesis have astronomers developed for why the supermassive black hole in the Milky Way doesn’t seem to consume many objects?

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