The team that spearheaded the new work has been studying the center of the Milky Way for decades. In the past, they’ve studied the motions of stars that orbit treacherously close to Sagittarius A* to better understand the supermassive black hole and its properties.
In a recent project, they investigated the gases near the center of our galaxy with near-infrared light, which can penetrate the dust that surrounds our galaxy’s core. This is how they noticed what appeared to be four clumps of gas orbiting Sagittarius A*, which has a mass of some 4 million suns.
But instead of Sagittarius A*’s intense gravity stretching out the gas clouds as expected, the clumps stayed compact as they traveled around the black hole, said Anna Ciurlo, an astronomer at UCLA and the lead author of the new paper.
Merging binary stars?
Ciurlo and other researchers concluded that the four clumps were likely the same type of object as the two other gassy-looking objects — G1 and G2 — previously found orbiting the galaxy’s core. Therefore, they dubbed the new objects G3, G4, G5 and G6. The researchers aren’t sure what these G-objects are yet. But the fact that the gas clouds stay compact suggests that they’re hiding stars within their murky depths, Ciurlo said.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction