Thousands of Black Holes Surround the Heart of our Galaxy

Bright X-ray points mark the presence of black holes near the center of our galaxy. Image credit: NASA/Chandra X-Ray Observatory

(From NASA’s Image of the Day, June 19, 2020)

Astronomers have discovered evidence for thousands of black holes located near the center of our Milky Way galaxy using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

This black hole bounty consists of stellar-mass black holes, which typically weigh between five to 30 times the mass of our Sun. These newly identified black holes were found within three light-years — a relatively short distance on cosmic scales — of the supermassive black hole at our Galaxy’s center known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).

Theoretical studies of the dynamics of stars in galaxies have indicated that a large population of stellar mass black holes — as many as 20,000 — could drift inward over the eons and collect around Sgr A*. This recent analysis using Chandra data is the first observational evidence for such a black hole bounty.

Source: Black Hole Bounty Captured in the Center of the Milky Way