Date of Submission

Spring 2021

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Shuo Zhang

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The center of our Milky Way galaxy is located more than 200,000 trillion km from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. At the very center of our galaxy is a super-massive black hole called Sagittarius A$^{*}$. The black hole is surrounded by many interesting objects, including molecular clouds. Molecular clouds are large, cold clouds of gas in which stars are formed. Telescopes like NuSTAR have observed X-rays (radiation 10,000 times higher in energy than visible light) coming from these molecular clouds. Since cold gas cannot create such high energy emission by itself, there must be some external source of radiation interacting with these clouds. In my senior project, I studied the ``Bridge" molecular cloud, which is nearby Sagittarius A$^{*}$. Using data from 2012, 2016, and 2020, I determined that the brightness of this cloud doubled over the last 8 years. The most likely cause for this change in brightness is that the ``Bridge" cloud is reflecting a powerful outburst from the central black hole.

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