(via APOD: 2011 December 30 - The Diner at the Center of the Galaxy)
If you thought Lovejoy’s brush with the Sun was nearly cataclysmic, imagine being a dust cloud whose orbit takes you a little too close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy.
In this artist’s rendition, the red and yellow are used for the dust cloud. The red trajectory is the path we know the center of mass will take based on observations from the Very Large Telescope.
The blue orbits are from central stars near the galactic center.
The nebula contains several times the mass of the Earth in gas and dust. However, the heavyweight black hole is about 4 million times the mass of the Sun.
Illustration Credit: ESO/MPE/Marc Schartmann