“Cannibals” in the heart of the Milky Way.  Scientists have discovered the terrifying secret of young stars

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At the center of the Milky Way is the black hole Sagittarius A*, which is 4.5 million times larger than the Sun. More than a million stars revolve around this giant body, which is located in a “small” area four light-years across. Although this is a huge distance from the perspective of people on Earth, it is actually approximately the same distance between the Sun and its nearest star (Proxima Centauri). On the scale of space, it is a small distance.

The accumulation of such a large number of stars in a relatively small area makes… Collisions often occur between these objects. Depending on their mass, they move at speeds ranging from several to tens of thousands of kilometers per hour. The distance from the black hole also affects the speed at which stars move. The closer the object is to arc A*, the greater its speed. In the case of celestial bodies close to a black hole, we are talking about values ​​​​up to 29 million kilometers per hour.

Collisions at these speeds have a devastating effect on the stars themselves – after they come into contact with other similar objects They “dropped” the upper layer and then continued their orbit around the black hole. The amount of matter a star loses depends on how fast it is moving and how much it interferes with the star it collides with. One of the results of these destructive collisions is that stars… They appear younger due to being “bathed” in hydrogen-rich stellar material ejected from a nearby object.

Image: EHT Collaboration

Black hole Sagittarius A* in polarized light

Sanaa C RoseThe leader of the study whose results were presented during the meeting American Physical Society Which will be held in Sacramento, California in early April 2024, he adds:

However, achieving a “youthful look” comes at a price. The more massive a star is, the faster it burns up all the fuel it needs for internal nuclear fusion – A process that prevents it from collapsing under the influence of its own gravity. So, by accumulating stolen material, these massive stars shorten their lives.

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