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Q & A: Will the Milky Way's black hole eat us up?

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Most recent answer: 05/28/2013
Q:
If there is concrete proof that there is a supermassive black hole at the center of the milky way galaxy,It consumes matter that falls into it. And we can then study the behavior of this effect since black holes are invisible, Does that mean that the black hole continuously feeds until nothing is left? Even one day consuming all matter in the galaxy itself? Thanks for answering.Will
- Will Wade (age 42)
Quincy,Florida US
A:

Dear Will

Not to worry, we are safe.   Our own black hole, Sagittarius A, does have an appetite for objects that get too close but if a star has enough tangential velocity it will orbit the black hole in a Keplerian orbit.  For example in our own solar system the sun would consume the earth if it were headed directly toward the sun.   Fortunately we are safe in a more or less circular Keplarian orbit.    Astronomers have kept track of a few stars around Sag-A for a number of years and their trajectories fit nicely with the theory of orbits. 

If there is a gas surrounding a black hole the random collisions within the gas cloud can allow some particles to get too close to the 'event horizon'.   At that point there is no escape and the particle is a gonner. 

LeeH


(published on 05/28/2013)

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