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The Milky Way's black hole could be spewing out 'spitballs' the size of planets Look out!

Astronomers have found signs and evidences that the black hole in our galaxy might be propelling giant, planet-mass objects into the Space, and there could be one only a few hundred light-years away from Earth. These planetary 'spitballs' haven't been openly spotted as yet, but observations suggest they could weigh-up as much as several Jupiters each. They form when the black hole produces a streamer of gas that can thrash around itself and pack into a large object before blasting off into the cosmos.

Mark A. Garlick/CfA



Findings author Eden Girman from Harvard University said, "A single torn star can produce hundreds of these planet-sized objects. We questioned: Where do they finish up? How close do they come to us? We established a computer code to answer those great questions."

The process Girma exlains happens when a star rotates too close to a black hole and gets drawn towards it by the black hole’s massive gravitational pull. When this take place, the star releases its gases, making a gigantic streamer that is thrown outward into space. As this streamer travels out of the black hole, the gases can probably ball up into planet-mass objects, which are then flung away from the black hole at strong speeds.

If her calculations and observations are accurate, these 'planet-sized objects' end up hovering away from the black holes that formed them at about 32 million kilometers per hour (20 million mph), affecting around 95% of them to leave the galaxy they were born in and sail to neighboring galaxies. For the Milky Way galaxy, that neighbor would be Andromeda galaxy, securing the galaxies into intergalactic spitball battle.

One of the team’s member, James Guillochon from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics said, "Other galaxies like Andromeda are firing these 'spitballs' at us every day."

The team determines that some of the objects could exist within a, approximately, few hundred light-years of Earth, and they might slightly glow from all of the heat that is produced during their formation.

Scientists are hopeful that future telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), might find some of them in the years in the future. But regardless of being similar in mass to normal planets, these objects would not be the same, mostly because they are prepared from the gases of stars and wouldn't have a rocky interior, which is at the center of gas giants such as planet Jupiter. The team also records that the objects are made at much better speeds than regular planets that can take millions of years to get together. According to the astronomers, a black hole can strip a star of its gases in less than an Earth-day, and that the gases could change into objects in a year before getting fired into the lone universe. That’s extremely fast, specifically for cosmic reactions.

Eden Girma also said, "Only around one out of thousand free-floating planets will be one of these second-generation odd-balls.”

The team’s work is not yet published, their work is under peer-reviewed journal, but they offered it last week at a conference of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Texas, giving the astronomy public the chance to give response on the results.

So until they are proved and published, we have to take their results with a grain of salt. But if their results do turn out to be correct, they could benefit us better recognize how black holes work and function, and how their talent of stripping gases from stars might really cause a re-birth of new objects.

The next step will be to confidently spot one of these supposed objects as we get improved and better telescopes. We cannot wait.

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