Cloud suicide will wake black hole sleeping giant
- 18:00 14 December 2011 by Stephen Battersby
The sleeping giant at the centre of the Milky Way is about to wake up. A suicidal gas cloud is heading towards the galaxy's supermassive black hole, which will probably swallow the cloud, generating enormous flares of radiation that could help explain why the black hole is normally so placid.
The doomed cloud was a surprise to astronomers. "We have been looking at the galactic centre for 20 years, but mainly to observe the motion of stars," says Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany.
The suicidal gas cloud is due to break up in 2013 (Image: ESO/MPE/Marc Schartmann)
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