Milky Way's Black Hole Just Flared, Growing 75 Times as Bright for a Few Hours - Tue 13 Aug 23:25 GMT

Sagittarius A-star, the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way's center, has flared 75 times brighter than normal. But what caused it?

  A* for 20 years, and though the black hole does have some variability in its output, this 75 times normal flaring event is like nothing astronomers have observed before.

  At first, astronomer Tuan Do thought that they were seeing a star called SO-2 rather than Sgr.

  SO-2 is one of a group of stars called S-stars that orbits the black hole closely.

  Astronomers have been keeping an eye on it as it orbits the black hole, and at first they weren’t sure if they were seeing it or Sgr.

  In an interview with ScienceAlert, Do said, “The black hole was so bright I at first mistook it for the star S0-2, because I had never seen Sgr A* that bright.

  Back in the middle of 2018 was its last closest approach, when it was only 17 light hours away from the black hole.

  But it’s still possible that its passage close to the black hole set off a chain of events that caused or contributed to the May 2019 flaring.