The center of the Milky Way is a crowded, violent place, where stars and gas clouds whirl at high speed around a gigantic black hole. Now astronomers have spotted a haze of high-energy X-rays in this maelstrom that might be coming from dead stars—enough of them to make up a starry mass graveyard.
The answer, says Perez, lead author of a report published Wednesday in Nature on the X-ray haze: “We don’t know.”
When stars venture too close to a black hole, it shreds them, gulps them down and releases a violent blast of electromagnetic energy to mark the occasion. It’s not a friendly neighborhood.