Scientists are already aware of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and now they have discovered thousands more black holes surrounding it. Scientists have speculated that black holes tend to sink to the center of the galaxy, and now they may have found proof.
These findings support a decades-old theory regarding black holes.
Gathering Of Black Holes
Researchers led by Columbia University published a study in Nature that shows there are around a dozen black holes surrounding Sagittarius A*, which is the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. This confirms scientists' speculations that black holes sink and accumulate in the center of galaxies.
In order to prove the theory, the researchers began to look for black holes. They combed through data made by the space-based Chandra X-ray Observatory. By doing this, they were able to find about a dozen characteristic X-ray sources from the Milky Way's inner 3 light-years.
Trying to find black holes is almost impossible unless they're accompanied by an orbiting star. This allows scientists to spot the black holes through X-ray emissions.
X-rays are emitted by black holes as they begin to suck up the stars that they orbit. Finding these emissions was difficult due to the amount of gas and dust found there.
This is the first time that these black holes have been found. On the surface, this increases the number of black holes that were previously found throughout the galaxy. In the Milky Way, scientists have only been able to find five dozen black holes.
Thousands Of Black Holes
Using this data, researchers were able to detect only a dozen black holes. Researchers used information that's already known about black holes to predict that there are several hundred more black holes paired up with stars and about 10,000 isolated black holes in this region.
This research would not just shed light on the nature of black holes in the universe but also on gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are ripples caused by the black holes colliding with one another. Finding these black holes close together could explain a source for the gravitational waves and could help astronomers predict how often they occur.
Scientists previously speculated about the existence of multiple black holes at the center of the Milky Way. A 2005 study also used the Chandra X-ray Observatory and concentrated within the inner 75 light-years of the Milky Way. The study found four very dense objects near the center and suggested that there may be 10,000 black holes in the same area.