Our galaxy's monster black hole is eating stars and spewing out planet-size 'spitballs'

A new study conducted by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics revealed the shocking appetite of our galaxy's central black hole.

The massive body has apparently been chewing up stars and spitting them back out as planet-size objects.

Casual.

"Every few thousand years, an unlucky star wanders too close to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way," the study reported. "The black hole's powerful gravity rips the star apart, sending a long streamer of gas whipping outward."

From what we previously knew about black holes, that should be the end of the journey -- but in this case, it's just the beginning.

"New research shows that not only can the gas gather itself into planet-size objects, but those objects then are flung throughout the galaxy in a game of cosmic 'spitball.'"

But don't be fooled by the name -- these "spitballs" are nothing like your classroom straw variety.

The study, led by Harvard undergraduate student Eden Girma, calculated that each of the black hole's expulsions "would have a weight somewhere between Neptune and several Jupiters," would "glow from the heat of its formation" and would move at "speeds of about 20 million miles per hour (10,000 km/s)."

If you're worried that this means Earth is currently on a crash course with a flaming-hot, Jupiter-sized gas ball of death, don't be.

According to the study, the vast majority of the "spitballs" -- around 95 percent -- will leave the galaxy shortly after being formed due to their sheer speed alone.

However, if one were to somehow get caught up in gravitational fields and end up making its way towards our solar system, it wouldn't pose a threat in your, your grandchildren's, or even your great-great-great-great-great grandchildren's lifetimes.

"Once launched, it would take about a million years for one of these objects to reach Earth's neighborhood," reassured the study.

Thank goodness.

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