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ESOcast 39: A Black Hole's Dinner is Fast Approaching

The astronomy podcast exploring the cosmic frontier with Dr J

14 December 2011

This episode of the ESOcast looks at exciting new observations of a mysterious object that is a favoured theme in science fiction: the black hole. But the science fiction is fast becoming science fact, and the ending won’t be a happy one for the black hole’s victim.

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have discovered a gas cloud with several times the mass of the Earth accelerating fast towards the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. This is the first time ever that the approach of such a doomed cloud to a supermassive black hole has been observed.

Watch the episode to learn more about how astronomers discovered this cloud, and what is going to happen to it over the next few years.

More Information

The ESOcast is a video podcast series dedicated to bringing you the latest news and research from ESO — the European Southern Observatory. 

Subscribe to our video podcast now to keep up with the latest news from ESO: the ESOcast is available via iTunes in HD and SD. It’s also available on YouTube, Vimeo and dotSUB and is offered for download in several formats including HD.

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Credits

ESO

Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser and Luis Calçada.
Editing: Herbert Zodet.
Web and technical support: Lars Holm Nielsen and Raquel Yumi Shida.
Written by: Mathieu Isidro and Richard Hook.
Narration: Gaitee Hussain.
Music: zero-project (zero-project.gr) and movetwo.
Footage and photos: ESO, MPE/M. Schartmann, MPE/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)/VISTA/J. Emerson/Digitized Sky Survey 2, Luis Calçada, Stéphane Guisard (www.eso.org/~sguisard), José Francisco Salgado (josefrancisco.org).
Directed by: Richard Hook and Herbert Zodet.
Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen.

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About the Announcement

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Images

Simulation of gas cloud after close approach to the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way
Simulation of gas cloud after close approach to the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way

Videos

ESOcast 39: A Black Hole’s Dinner is Fast Approaching
ESOcast 39: A Black Hole’s Dinner is Fast Approaching