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Graveyard of Stars May Lie at Milky Way’s Center


An unidentified blast of powerful X-rays suggests something violent is happening at the core of the galaxy—but astronomers aren’t sure what it is


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.
They X-rays are bunched tightly around the Milky Way’s central black hole and come from a region about 13 light-years across and 26 light-years thick. “The mystery,” says Kerstin Perez of Haverford College, “is where does that haze come from?”

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