A group of astronomers has found several foreign objects in the center of our galaxy that looked like gas clouds but turned out to be massive stars orbiting near the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, according to the researchers from the UCLA who reported their findings at the conference of the American Astronomical Society in Denver, Colorado.
Anna Ciurlo of the University of California, Los Angeles, has made the findings after examining data collected by the Keck telescope, in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, over the past 12 years.
“These compact, dusty stellar objects [dubbed G1 and G2] move extremely fast and close to the supermassive black hole in our galaxy,” Sagittarius A, explained Anna Ciurlo in a statement.
Initially, astronomers have discovered the G1 and G2 in 2004 and 2012, respectively, very close to the monstrous black hole in the middle of the Milky Way but considered them gas and dust clouds.
Two massive stars were observed next to Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way
Recently, the scientists were baffled when they’ve noticed that the two strange space objects survived the huge gravitational pull of the Sagittarius A black hole, which can destroy gas clouds, leading researchers to conclude that G1 and G2 were, in fact, two massive stars.
“Our view of G objects is that they are swollen stars, stars that have become so large that the black hole’s attraction forces can pull matter out of their stellar atmospheres when they get close enough, but they have a stellar core with so much mass that helps them remain intact,” explained Mark Morris one of the co-authors of this study.
According to Morris, what puzzles the astronomers now is why are these stars are so big. A possible explanation would be that a lot of energy was poured into these stars, causing them to swell and grow more than normal.
However, the scientists at the UCLA’s Galactic Center Orbit Initiative believe that these two massive stars orbiting near Sagittarius A are the result of mergers of binary stars which collided due to the gravitational force of the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way.