Scientists believe that the Milky Way’s central black hole could have turned nearby red giant stars into bluer, hotter stars.
Countless stars lie within 1.6 light-years of the Milky Way’s central black hole. But this densely populated area has fewer red giants – large, cool, bright stars – than there should be. Scientists have figured out the reason for this anomaly in a new study.
Astrophysicists have a new theory of why the red giants disappeared from the center of the Milky Way. Scientists believe the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A * released a powerful jet of gas that ripped off the red giants’ outer layers. This turned the stars into smaller red giants or hotter and bluer stars. Such a theory was put forward by Michal Zayachek, an astrophysicist at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, and his colleagues in an article published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Today, Sagittarius A * is calm, but scientists suggest that the black hole came to life about 4 million years ago, when something fell into it and destroyed the red giants in the center of our galaxy.
A disk of gas around the black hole shot a powerful jet of material into its star-studded surroundings. Such jets of radiation (jets) mostly affect large red giants. They are especially vulnerable due to their large size and thin gas envelope.