In 2011, astronomers were getting excited for what promised to be a spectacular cosmic event.
Rapidly approaching our galaxy's central supermassive black hole was a stream of gas, likely stripped from a doomed star, that seemed destined to be swallowed in the black hole's gravitational well. But what was going to happen when the gas made contact with the black hole's accretion disk?
ANALYSIS: Our Galaxy's Black Hole Has the ‘Munchies'
It was hoped that a violent interaction would take place and observatories would see some powerful flaring events at the center of the Milky Way, providing a valuable insight to the eating habits of supermassive black holes that are thought to reside in the centers of most galaxies.
Now the time has come - what are astronomers seeing? Well... not a lot. It seems that the cloud of gas, known simply as "G2," isn't generating the fireworks it seemed destined to.
Flaring supermassive black holes have been observed before in other galaxies. By looking at the energetic radiation generated by these events, astronomers can surmise what the black hole has "eaten." Stars, planets, gas clouds, even asteroids have been seen being blended by the gravitational behemoths. So to have the possibility of seeing our very own supermassive black hole - known as Sagittarius A*, or simply Sgr. A* - light up while munching on G2, astronomers were very excited for the scientific opportunity.