A supermassive black hole might consume a gas cloud. Now, that just sounds epic.
The celestial showdown is going on right now, and it looks something like this. (Via NASA )
You won’t be able to see it without a telescope from this approved list, so yeah, we’ll just wait for the scientists to share. (Via GASCLOUDwiki)
Thing is, no one knows exactly what’s going to happen.
Astrophysicists with the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics first spotted the gas cloud, dubbed G2, in 2011. They noted it was on a crash course to the black hole and would likely hit in 2013. (Via Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics)
They’ve since adjusted their prediction, but still can’t say with certainty what time the potential galactic snack fest will take place.
Should G2 collide with the black hole in this way, ITN reports, “The gas will slowly break up over the next two decades.” (Via ITN)
Or if it doesn’t turn into the destruction some are expecting. Reports indicate the gas cloud could simply keep on its course around the black hole and, well, not get eaten. (Via European Southern Observatory)
If G2 survives, it could give us insight into the evolution of galaxies. If not, it will be the first time we’ve been able to see this happen. One of the leaders on the observation campaign tells Wired, no matter what, “It will be absolutely stunning to see the physics at work.” (Via European Southern Observatory)
Ironically, this has all already happened.
The Milky Way’s center is 26,000 light-years away, remember. So this happened 26,000 years ago. Talk about holding for dramatic effect. (Via NASA)
Point here is something is going to happen. But we don’t know what. And whatever it is will be new and hopefully bring us some clarity. That is, if we can get a good look at it. The Epoch Times reports —
“With our current technology, it may still be difficult to discern with much clarity what exactly is going on, but it’s the best observation opportunity we’ve had yet.”