'Unprecedented' flash light from supermassive black hole leaves NASA scientists baffled

The discovery was revealed on Saturday by astronomer Tuan Do who tweeted a timelapse of his observation of the supermassive black hole in May. The timelapse video clearly shows an unidentified intermittent light flashing over the course of two and a half hours. Mr Do, an astronomer at UCLA wrote: ”Here's a timelapse of images over 2.5 hr from May from @keckobservatory of the supermassive black hole Sgr A*.

“The black hole is always variable, but this was the brightest we've seen in the infrared so far.

"It was probably even brighter before we started observing that night!"

The astronomer claimed in a series of other tweets that the flash could have been caused by another star passing close by, thus changing the way gas flows into the black hole.

Another possibility is that the flash occurred due to a gas cloud, which also recently passed close to the black hole in 2014 — and is a delayed reaction to that event.

READ MORE: Supermassive black hole: Could Sagittarius A* swallow the Sun?

According to Mr Do, there are other telescopes that have been observing the black hole over the summer — and he is "eagerly awaiting their results".

Speaking to CBS, astrophysicist at Harvard University, Shep Doeleman, claimed "jaws dropped" when scientist could focus on the black hole for the first time.

He said: “When we saw this coming to focus, our jaws dropped.

“I think this image will be an important part of astronomy going forward for years to come.

Black holes are one of the most extreme entities in the universe. These mysterious regions of space-time exhibit such power that nothing – even light can escape from their grasp.

Once a black hole begins devouring nearby gas clouds and stars, material sucked inside heats up at the event horizon.

This sparks intense light shows that are detectable by telescopes.

Mr Do and his colleagues believe a star known as S0-2, approximately 15 times larger than our star, may have been the object responsible for Sgr A*’s significant shining.

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