Astronomers using Chile’s array of radio telescopes known as ALMA, have observed tell-tale signs of stars forming closer to the black hole located 27,000 light-years away at our Galactic Centre, than ever seen before.
Surrounding the Milky Way Galaxy’s central supermassive black hole is a region of space subject to extreme gravitational forces, which theoretically should stretch molecular clouds enough to prevent them from accumulating sufficient mass to form stars. Nevertheless, US astronomers have now witnessed excess stellar material bursting out of dense areas of gas and dust in this region, normally indicative of the formation of infant stars.
Commenting on the observation reported in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University explained: “People think it is very hard to form stars near a supermassive black hole..But what we seem to have found are patches of dust and gas that have become so dense that they are able to overcome their inhospitable surroundings.”
For decades, experts have puzzled over the abundance of massive stars younger than 10 million years old, swirling around the black hole at the center of our galaxy. The latest findings now provide valuable clues to understanding this astronomical phenomena, and suggest that the conditions required for star formation extends much further towards the galactic center than previously believed possible.