Washington: According to a new study, it takes only four years for a newly discovered star to take a complete round around the black hole at the centre of our galaxy. In the vicinity of the black hole at the centre of our galaxy is a densely packed cluster of stars. This cluster, called the S cluster, is home to well over a hundred stars that differ in their brightness and mass. S stars move particularly fast.
`One prominent member, S2, behaves like a large person sitting in front of you in a movie theatre: it blocks your view of what`s important,` said Dr Florian Peissker, lead author of the new study.
`The view into the centre of our galaxy is therefore often obscured by S2. However, in brief moments we can observe the surroundings of the central black hole.`
By means of continuously refining methods of analysis, together with observations covering almost twenty years, the scientist now identified without a doubt a star that travels around the central supermassive black hole in just four years. A total of five telescopes observed the star, with four of these five being combined into one large telescope to allow even more accurate and detailed observations.
`For a star to be in a stable orbit so close and fast in the vicinity of a supermassive black hole was completely unexpected and marks the limit that can be observed with traditional telescopes,` said Peissker.
Moreover, the discovery sheds new light on the origin and evolution of the orbit of fast-moving stars in the heart of the Milky Way.
`The short-period, compact orbit of S4716 is quite puzzling,` Michael Zajacek, an astrophysicist at Masaryk University in Brno who was involved in the study, said.
`Stars cannot form so easily near the black hole. S4716 had to move inwards, for example by approaching other stars and objects in the S cluster, which caused its orbit to shrink significantly,` he added.
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