Incoming Fart! Milky Way Galaxy's Black Hole Could Be Firing Out Planet-Size Gas Balls

First Posted: Jan 10, 2017 04:28 AM EST

Most people think that cosmic objects sucked into black holes could be doomed forever. However, a new study says that black holes apparently fart these objects out as planet-sized gas balls back into space.

Gizmodo reported that a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University explains the fate of a wandering star, which happens to fall into the pit of Milky Way galaxy's black hole. While the region's gravitational pull could shred the cosmic object into pieces in a process called tidal disruption, these fragments actually form into massive gas "spitballs" fired back out into the Milky Way.

"A single shredded star can form hundreds of these planet-mass objects. We wondered: Where do they end up? How close do they come to us? We developed a computer code to answer those questions," said study's lead author Eden Girma, an undergraduate student at Harvard University and a member of the Banneker/Aztlan Institute, in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics press release.

According to Girma's team, the mass of these planet-sized gas balls could fall between that of Neptune's or a few Jupiters combined. These wander back into a distance within hundreds of lightyears from Earth with a speed of about 20 million miles per hour (10,000 km/s).

These gas balls may have a bit of a glow due to their heat. But previous studies were not able to detect such faint objects. In fact, currently used telescopes may not even find them anymore as they do not just remain within the galaxy.

The researchers added that this cosmic game of "spitball" does not only happen within the Milky Way, though. "Other galaxies like Andromeda are shooting these 'spitballs' at us all the time," said study's co-author James Guillochon of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

This study was recently presented at the American Astronomical Society press conference meeting.

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