Swarm of Black Holes & Neutron Stars Orbiting the Supermassive Monster at Milky Way’s Core
A swarm of 10,000 or more black holes may be orbiting the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, according to results from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
This would represent the highest concentration of black holes anywhere in the Galaxy. These relatively small, stellar-mass black holes, along with neutron stars, appear to have migrated into the Galactic Center over the course of several billion years.
The discovery was made as part of the Chandra X-Ray Space Observatory’s monitoring of the region around Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
Among the thousands of X-ray sources detected within 70 light years of Sgr A*, Muno and his colleagues searched for those most likely to be active black holes and neutron stars by selecting only the brightest sources that also exhibited large variations in their X-ray output.
”Although the region around Sgr A* is crowded with stars, we expected that there was only a 20 percent chance that we would find even one X-ray binary within a three-light-year radius,” said Muno. “The observed high concentration of these sources implies that a huge number of black holes and neutron stars have gathered in the center of the Galaxy.”