March 8, 2023

The star X3a in its envelope of gas and dust (Image courtesy Florian Peißker)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal” reports the discovery of a very young and massive star, cataloged as X3a, in an environment in which it shouldn’t exist, as it orbits Sagittarius A*, or simply Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. A team of researchers led by Florian Peißker of the Institute of Astrophysics at the University of Cologne, Germany, used several instruments to locate X3a.

According to the researchers, the star must have formed in a cloud farther from Sagittarius A* and then been attracted by it. This suggests a model of star formation near an environment where conditions seem impossible.