Huge black hole at centre of our galaxy ‘is pointing a jet straight at Earth’
The monstrous black hole at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy is four million times the mass of our sun – and is pointing a 'jet' of energy directly at us, scientists believe.
Earth is not in danger, but scientists using the powerful ALMA telescope believe that the radio jet emitted by the black hole is pointing towards Earth.
The £870m Atacama Large Millimetre Array observatory is based in Chile and combines radio waves collected by the antennae to construct images of space.
Scientists are currently battling to produce a sharp image of the black hole, which is hidden in a foggy cloud of hot gas.
The black hole, known as Sagittarius A* is thought to pull in stars, gas clouds and planets, devouring them with its huge gravity.
Heino Falcke, Professor of Radio Astronomy at Radboud University, says, "Maybe we are looking at this beast from a very special vantage point."
Researchers found that the bulk of the radio signal is coming from 300 millionths of a degree.
Sara Issaoun of Radboud University says, "This may indicate that the radio emission is produced in a disk of in-falling gas rather than by a radio jet.
"However, that would make Sgr A* an exception compared to other radio emitting black holes. The alternative could be that the radio jet is pointing almost at us."
Supermassive black holes are common in the centres of galaxies and may generate the most energetic phenomena in the known universe.
It is believed that, around these black holes, matter falls in a rotating disk and part of this matter is expelled in opposite directions along two narrow beams, called jets, at speeds close to the speed of light, which typically produces a lot of radio light.
Whether the radio emission we see from Sgr A* comes from the in-falling gas or the outflowing jet is a matter of intense debate.
Future studies of the black hole will collect data at different wavelengths could help increase scientists' understanding of black holes.
This article originally appeared on Yahoo UK