Not often do I get to talk about two of my favorite, most extreme objects in the Universe in the same story: pulsars and black holes. The recent discovery of a very special pulsar very close to our Galaxy's supermassive black hole has astronomers, and this blogger, pretty darn excited.
First, let's set the scene. In the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, as in most galaxies, there lies a supermassive black hole. Ours is millions of times the mass of the sun. Others are larger and much more active, but ours is the closest, and thus easier to study in many ways. This black hole, dubbed Sagittarius A* (pronounced "A-star"), or Sgr A* for short, is pulling in, or "eating" some of the gas around it, but very inefficiently. It is a typical quiescent, or quiet black hole.
PHOTOS: Ten Cosmic Stunners to Point Your New Telescope At
The feeding process gives off radio and X-ray emission that has been studied at great length, but the magnetic field strength around the black hole must also be known to complete the physical picture.