Gas cloud falling in towards the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way

These observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope show a small gas cloud as it falls towards the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. The cloud appears in red and many of the bright blue stars orbiting the central black hole are also shown. Measurements made with ESO's Very Large Telescope in 2013 show that the cloud is so stretched that the front part of it has passed the closest point and is travelling away from the black hole at more than 10 million km/h, whilst the tail is still falling towards it.

Due to its distance, and the fact that we see the orbit at a steep angle as the cloud falls towards the black hole, only the position, not the shape, of the cloud can be discerned in this video. The stretching of the cloud is seen in observations of its velocity, which allow astronomers to work out where on its orbit the different parts of the cloud are now located.


ESO/S. Gillessen

About the Video

Release date:17 July 2013, 12:00
Related releases:eso1332
Duration:20 s
Frame rate:30 fps

About the Object

Name:Milky Way, Milky Way Galactic Centre, Sgr A*
Type:Milky Way : Galaxy : Component : Central Black Hole
Category:Quasars and Black Holes



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