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Huge black hole eating worlds in Milky Way

A supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way is gradually destroying entire worlds on a daily basis, a new study has claimed.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2011 13:56 IST

A supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way is gradually destroying entire worlds on a daily basis, a new study has claimed.

The study led by Dr Kastytis Zubovas from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, said Sagittarius A, a giant black hole 26,000 light-years from Earth, flares up in spectacular daily displays of x-rays and infrared radiation after the cosmic cannibal.

Writing on the pre-press website ArXiv.org, Zubovas and colleagues propose Sagittarius A, which is 4,000,000 times the mass of the Sun, is destroying planets and asteroids that have formed in a torus of dust and gas around the black hole, ABC Science reported.

They claim these clouds are a mixture of primordial chemicals and the remains of stars that have already been shredded by the black hole.

That’s a similar environment to the proto-planetary disks around stars in which planets form.

This hypothesis has raised the possibility that planetary systems could be evolving around the Milky Way’s central black hole in the same way that they would around a star.

While this region may be conducive to the formation of planets and asteroids, Zubovas and colleagues point out that it’s also an area where these bodies are destroyed as they move too close to the central black hole.

When this happens, a burst of x-rays and infrared radiation a hundred times greater than normal background energy is detected coming from Sagittarius A, they report.

But the radiation released as the planets and asteroids are destroyed is just a tiny fraction of the levels released when a star falls into the black hole, an event which is estimated to happen once every 100,000 years.