Black Hole Swarms | Space Time

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It’s been conjectured that the center of the Milky Way is swarming with tens of thousands of black holes. And now we’ve actually seen them.

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Previous Episode:
Using Stars to See Gravitational Waves

This episode of Space Time Journal Club looks at the paper:

A density cusp of quiescent X-ray binaries in the central parsec of the Galaxy
by Hailey, Mori, Bauer, Berkowitz, Hong & Hord (2018)

The core of our galaxy is a wild place. The stars are so densely packed that the night sky would be 500 times brighter. A supermassive black hole, 4 million times the mass of our Sun lurks in the center. It flings nearby stars into extreme slingshot orbits. It consumes anything that gets too close is consumed, burping a blast of X-rays. We know these things because we see them from our comfortable vantage point 28,000 light years out in the galactic disk. But there’s one particularly terrible feature of the core of our galaxy that, until now, has only been has only be hypothesized: The central few light years of the Milky Way is thought to contain a vast swarm of smaller black holes that have rained in from the surrounding galaxy.

Hosted by Matt O’Dowd
Written by Matt O’Dowd
Graphics by Grayson Blackmon
Assistant Editing and Sound Design by Mike Petrow and Linda Huang
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