Scientists believe there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy

Scientists believe there is a black hole at the center of our galaxy

I should open with something like: is there a black hole at the center of your soul? Well, good news - there's also a black hole at the center of your galaxy. You're a perfect microcosm! Or so goes the depressing karmic news that rings with the sound of Old Testament shackles.

Black holes are a totally peculiar substance. They are not really a substance at all, but rather the result of a dead star, collapsed in on itself, a great portal into the shadow realm or a toxic blister upon the face of the galaxy. Maybe they lead to other dimensions. Maybe they're warp-holes. Maybe they just suck us up and crush us, and wherever they go is nowhere we can follow.

Credit: PBS

Astronomers in Japan discovered that molecules forming a cloud the shape of an ellipsis were being pulled by intense gravitation a mere 200 light years from the center of the Milky Way. The culprit? An unidentified black hole, thought to be 1.4 trillion kilometers wide.

Radio waves were detected from the cloud that were a dead-ringer for a black hole. Astronomer Tomoharu Oka called it "The first detection of an intermediate-mass black hole candidate in the Milky Way galaxy".

Medium-sized black holes have always been a mystery. There are small black holes, which emerge from the deaths of stars, and massive black holes, which are the conglomerated results of tons dead stars, or tons of black holes, colliding together to form a super-massive center of gravitation.

We have only seen 60 out of an estimated 100 million small black holes in our galaxy, a startlingly large number.

Credit: BBC

This medium-sized black hole could weigh an upwards of 100,000 suns. But that's not much. There is an enormous black hole nearby, at the dead center of the Milky Way, known as Sagittarius A. This hole is measured to weigh roughly 4 million suns.

In time, this new medium black hole will probably fade into the enormous Sagittarius A, making it even more massive.

Brooke Simmons, a detective of black holes, thinks that the discovery of this new mid-size one could be instrumental in our knowledge of the strange gravitational cores of cosmic weight:

“Astrophysicists have been collecting observational evidence for both stellar mass black holes and supermassive black holes for decades, but even though we think the largest ones grow from the smallest ones, we’ve never really had clear evidence for a black hole with a mass in between those extremes.”

It's like the missing link between two different species of black holes. Cool, right? Do these black holes evolve, much like our own evolution? We don't understand much about DNA. Perhaps the evolutionary map of a star follows it past death and into its resurrection as a black hole, growing larger and larger until soon, inevitably, it would consume entire galaxies.

Credit: NASA

We really don't know much about space. Our own sun, the object of so much religious devotion, is nothing compared to the might of a single one of these black holes, and is tiny even amongst other suns.

It's a peculiar emotional problem - if the universe is so massive that it may as well be infinite, then any point within it could hypothetically be considered its 'center'. A limitless universe with no center is an intensely destabilizing place to be. So where do we stand?

Perhaps at the precipice of the wisdom to be found inside a black hole.