Scientists Find Mysterious 'Heartbeat' in Galactic Gas Cloud — and Twitter Jokes 'Galactus Is Coming!'
International scientists have made a shocking, unprecedented discovery in space — and it has sent fans of Marvel Comics into a frenzy.
In a new study published Tuesday in Nature Astronomy, researchers said they have found an unusual, mysterious "heartbeat" coming from a cosmic gas cloud that is "beating" along with the rhythm of a black hole located 100 light years away, per a release on ScienceDaily.
But what researchers remain stumped on is how the gamma-ray "heartbeat" of the cloud can be connected to the black hole, given the distance between the two.
The research team said they found the heartbeat in a system known as SS 433, about 15,000 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Aquila, after looking through 10 years of data from NASA's Fermi gamma-ray space telescope.
According to the release, the black hole is a part of a system that includes a giant star 30 times the mass of the sun. Every 13 days, the black hole and the star orbit each other, with the black hole gradually sucking material from the star and eventually devouring it.
"Finding such an unambiguous connection via timing, about 100 light years away from the micro quasar, not even along the direction of the jets is as unexpected as amazing," said Jian Li, one of the study's lead researchers. "But how the black hole can power the gas cloud's heartbeat is unclear to us."
Following news of the discovery, Marvel Comics fans joked on Twitter that the study's findings had an eerie similarity to Galactus, the planet-consuming comic book supervillain.
"OH SWEET Galactus is coming!" wrote one reader.
"If you would’ve told me last year that Galactus would be real, I would’ve laughed. Thanks 2020!" one Twitter user joked.
Wrote another, "Aah yes, The Galactus teaser for the September episode of 2020."
Despite being a planet-sized armored humanoid in the Marvel Comics, Galactus appeared in the 2007 film Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer merely as a cosmic hurricane-like cloud.