A European Southern Observatory simulation of gas cloud G2 threading through the local stars during its first pass around Sagittarius A*, our galaxy's supermassive black hole (Image: M. Schartmann and L. Calcada/ESO)
Close up x-ray photo of Sagittarius A*, our galaxy's supermassive black hole, as seen by the Chandra space telescope (Image: NASA)
Movement of G2 in recent years (blue-2006; green-2010; red-2013) (Image: European Southern University/S. Gillessen)
Spaghettification of G2 as it approaches the Sagittarius A* supermassive black hole (Image: European Southern Observatory/S. Gillessen)
Aerial view of ESO's Very Large Telescope in the high desert mountains of Chile (Photo: J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl/European Southern Observatory)
G2's projected orbit as seen from Earth – small yellow dot is Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy (Image: S. Gillessen via Arxiv.org)
As you read this, the eyes of the astrophysical world are focused on about one-trillionth of the sky, watching as the calm existence of G2, a three-Earth mass gas cloud near the galactic center, is viciously disrupted by a close encounter with Sagittarius A*, the galaxy's supermassive black hole. Careful observation of this rare event is expected to provide an enormous amount of information on the environment of the central light month (about 6,000 AU) immediately surrounding the black hole.
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