A mysterious object is being dragged into the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way\’s center: Astronomers think the object, X7, might be debris cloud from a stellar collision

For two decades, scientists have been studying a mysterious elongated object called X7 near the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. A new study from the UCLA Galactic Center Group and the Keck Observatory suggests that X7 is a cloud of dust and gas that was ejected from a collision of two stars. X7 has a mass of about 50 Earths and is on an orbital path around the black hole which would take 170 years to complete. However, the team estimates that X7 will make its closest approach to the black hole around the year 2036 and likely spiral towards it and disappear. The research team will continue to use the Keck Observatory to monitor X7\’s dramatic changes as the black hole\’s gravity pulls it apart. This is the first estimate of X7\’s mildly elliptical orbit and the most robust analysis to date of the remarkable changes to its appearance, shape and behavior. The findings suggest that X7 could be the dust and gas ejected from a merged star that\’s still out there somewhere.

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