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Recent Podcast
A Tour of Eta Carinae
A Tour of Eta Carinae
New Chandra data are helping astronomers better understand how the two stars in Eta Carinae interact with one another through powerful winds blowing off their surfaces. (2014-08-27)


Sagittarius A* in 60 Seconds

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Narrator (April Hobart, CXC): Scientists have long known that the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way is a particularly poor eater. Unlike some of its more distant galactic cousins including quasars, the Milky Way's black hole doesn't seem to be consuming much material, and, as a result, it is remarkably dim in X-ray light by comparison. To find out why our black hole behaves as it does, scientists used Chandra to observe the black hole - known as Sagittarius A* -- for over five weeks worth of time. This is one of the largest amounts of time that Chandra has ever looked at the same object. Sagittarius A* is a black hole with about 4 million times the mass of the Sun. At just 26,000 light years from Earth, Sagittarius A* is one of very few black holes in the universe that's close enough where we can actually witness the flow of matter nearby. The researchers found out that Sagittarius A* actually consumes less than about 1% of the material it has available to it. While they are still working out the details of how and why the black hole is so finicky, astronomers now have a new piece of the puzzle thanks to these new X-ray data from Chandra.

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