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Q&A: Milky Way Galaxy

Q:
Is Sagittarius "A" located at the center of the Milky Way strong enough to cause problems with our Sun when it passes by the center in 2012? The blackouts that have occurred are due to the radition of solar flares that are getting stronger?

A:
Sagittarius A is not strong enough to cause problems for our Sun. The crossing of the galaxy's plane by the Sun refers to the Sun's distance from the plane of the galaxy. This direction is perpendicular to the direction of the center of our galaxy (where Sagittarius A* is located). A few more details are given at this web-site:

http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=686 Sagittarius A* is actually fairly faint, by supermassive black hole standards. Part of the reason is that dust and gas in the plane of the galaxy blocks much of the light and part of the reason is that it appears to be on a starvation diet. The upshot is that the solar system could be much closer to Sagittarius A* and it still wouldn't pose any danger.

For predictions about solar flares please see this web-site:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2006/solar_cycle.html

and the "More about space weather" link given below.

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