Two Mexican scientists studying data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope have discovered unexpected regular activity near the supermassive black hole located at the center of our galaxy. The black hole Sagittarius A* is usually considered quiet: it does not consume mass of matter, and there are no multiple emissions near it. However, scientists have recently discovered mysterious flashes in the vicinity of this hole.
Astrophysicists Gustavo Magallanes-Guijon and Sergio Mendoza from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico decided to take a closer look at the periodic X-ray flares noticed several years ago. They analyzed data from the Fermi telescope collected over 180 days in 2022.
The analysis, the results of which are described in an article on the arXiv preprint website, revealed an interesting pattern: a gamma signal arrives from the vicinity of Sagittarius A* with a reliability of 3 sigma every 76.32 minutes. It should be noted that for a “hard” confirmation of a discovery, a reliability of at least 5 sigma is required. According to scientists, there is a high probability that a clump of gas rotates around Sagittarius A* at a distance approximately like Mercury from the Sun at a speed of about 30% of the speed of light.
Scientists suggest that this cloud of gas can emit in other ranges, and its periodic activity is associated with previously identified flares in the X-ray range. Although no radiation escapes from the black hole itself, in the region of absorption of matter in the accretion disk the processes are very, very active and are accompanied by energy emissions.
This discovery opens new horizons for understanding the dynamics of black holes and their impact on the surrounding space.