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A magnetic field may be keeping Milky Way's black hole at bay

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A magnetic field may be keeping Milky Way's black hole at bay

A magnetic field may be keeping Milky Way's black hole at bay

WASHINGTON — A magnetic field at the center of our galaxy may be keeping a supermassive black hole at bay.

According to their website, NASA believes they now know why the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy is suspiciously dormant in comparison to others in different galaxies.

New research from NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is helping scientists understand the difference between a highly active black hole and a relatively inactive one.

The results from SOFIA and its far-infrared camera, or HAWC+, have given them large amounts of data about the magnetic field at the center of the Milky Way and its role in making the Sagittarius A* black hole so tranquil.

NASA stated that like most black holes if the magnetic field funnels the gas directly into it, the black hole is active because of its mass consumption of gas.

However, the new observations using HAWC+ reveals that the magnetic field at the center of the Milky Way channels the gas so it flows into an orbit around the black hole, making the black hole calmer because it's not ingesting any gas that would ultimately create new stars.

Principal investigator and lead author of the study Darren Dowell said, "the spiral shape of the magnetic field channels the gas into an orbit around the black hole—this could explain why our black hole is quiet while others are active." According to NASA, the new observations using HAWC+ helps understand how the material in the atmosphere of a supermassive black hole interacts with its host, and also to help to answer the long-established question of why the black hole in the center of our Milky Way is fainter in comparison to those in other galaxies.

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