The Milky Way’s supermassive black hole had its last meal 6 million years ago when it had a large clump of infalling gas. Subsequently, it belched out a gigantic gas bubble that weighed equal to millions of suns.
According to an NDTV report, Indian scientist Rongmon Bordoloi from Cambridge’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted the research with the help of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The researcher observed that numerous distant quasars can be viewed through the Fermi Bubbles’ northern half. Incidentally, the Fermi Bubble is the gas outflow expelled by the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole.
Bordoloi, along with his team of researchers, investigated the quasar’s light for information on the speed of the gas, and whether the gas is moving away or toward Earth. On the basis of the material’s speed, the scientists estimated that the bubbles originated from an energetic event that took place around 6 million to 9 million years ago.
The scientists said that they traced the motion of cool gas throughout one of the bubbles for the first time that enabled them to map the velocity of the gas and estimate when the bubbles formed. "It was a very energetic and strong occurrence. It might have been a gas cloud flowing into the black hole, which led to jets of matter being fired of, forming the twin lobes of hot gas seen in gamma-ray and X-ray observations,” Rongmon Bordoloi said, as reported by India Today. “Ever since then, the black hole has just been eating snacks.” The scientist also added that it is somewhat unclear what the snacks consisted of.
According to Bordoloi, though the timeline for the supermassive black hole’s last meal may seem to be a really long one, in cosmic timescale, it is just like the blink of an eye. In fact, the supermassive black hole last had its meal long after the dinosaurs became extinct or primates first appeared on planet Earth.