Astronomers have known for at least a decade that a super-massive black hole lives at the center of our galaxy. But now they think they know what it eats.The Chandra X-ray Observatory has recorded blazing x-ray flares – at the rate of roughly one per day. From the brightness and duration of these events, researchers are able to work out the masses and likely composition of whatever’s disappearing down the black hole’s maw. And they think the answer is asteroids. Super-mass in a tiny space means super-gravitation and extreme tidal forces. As these asteroids spiral in, their constituent atoms are literally torn apart, liberating bursts of energy in the X-ray range.It’s a little like meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere, but much more violent, rapid and disruptive. If confirmed, this theory implies that the “super-singularity” won’t be running short of snacks anytime soon; hundreds of trillions of asteroids and comets lie in the area…and on the menu.For SPACE.com, I’m Dave Brody.
X-Ray flares recorded by the Chandra Observatory suggest asteroids and comets are being violently torn apart by the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Credit: Chandra X-Ray Observatory, SPACE.com, ESA, NASA, Music: Atom Strange