Scientists Unravel Secrets of Monster Black Hole at Center of Milky Way Galaxy
The supermassive black hole last erupted 2 mya, and will again.
by Andrew Fazekas
For years astronomers have been puzzled as to why our Milky Way galaxy’s “volcano”—a supermassive black hole (SMBH) at its core—is dormant today.
It seems the answer may simply be that we didn’t catch the cosmic monster—weighing at least four million times the mass of our sun—feeding at the right time, according to a new study.
"If we had been around to see it two million years ago, the situation would have been very different," said study co-author Philip Maloney of the University of Colorado in Boulder.
"The Milky Way’s black hole was maybe ten million times brighter [then]," he said. "I don’t think anyone really had any expectation that SMBH might vary in luminosity by such a huge factor on such a short—relatively speaking—time scale."…