Astronomers capture image of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way

Three years ago, scientists revealed that they had “seen what we thought could not be seen”: a picture of a black hole. In reality, we cannot clearly see a black hole — an object so dense that light cannot escape from it. But what the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team has been able to do is capture its bright silhouette, consisting of extremely hot, supercharged gas and plasma circling the black hole’s “event horizon,” or point of no return.

On Thursday, the EHT told the world it had gone one step further and captured the first picture of Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

“This is the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy,” Sera Markoff, an astronomer and EHT team member based at the University of Amsterdam, told reporters on Thursday. Five. “Today, we have direct evidence that this object is a black hole.”

The 2019 announcement was about the supermassive black hole at the center of Messier 87 (or M87), a galaxy 53 million light-years from Earth. That picture was beautiful in its own right, but admittedly it was nothing like the illustrations of electrified black holes that often spread across the internet. Instead, the M87 as seen by the EHT looks like a translucent orange donut.

To the left is M87*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87), 55 million light-years away. On the right is Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the black hole at the center of our Milky Way.

EHT . Cooperation

But the image did do something particularly important for astronomy and physics: it helped confirm Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which states that matter moving towards us will appear brighter than matter moving towards us. move away from us.

Sgr A* is only 27,000 light-years from Earth — essentially in our cosmic backyard. However, the new photo actually looks a lot like the M87 snapshot.

“We were all surprised to see that the image of Sgr A* is very similar to that of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87,” said Markoff. This is despite the fact that Sgr A* is 1,000 times smaller. It has a 7.2 million-mile event horizon – 15 times the Earth-Moon distance – with a mass 4 million times that of the sun. The M87 black hole is a massive 23.6 billion miles long, and 6.5 billion times more massive than the sun.

For scientists, the similarity of the two images is indisputable. In fact, it helps confirm the predicted physics of these incredibly eccentric phenomena. “Once you get to the center of a black hole, gravity takes over,” says Markoff.

Both pictures were taken using the same ingenious method to create a telescope that approximates the size of the Earth. The EHT isn’t a single instrument — it’s actually a network of eight radio telescope facilities from around the world, in locations like Hawaii, Chile, and the French Alps.

Combined, the network of radio telescopes provides extremely high resolution, essentially allowing astronomers to image a donut-sized object on the moon.

The central region of the Milky Way, in the direction of Sgr A*, consists of about 10 million stars orbiting the black hole, but the visible light emitted from this location is always obscured by interstellar dust. We have never had direct visual evidence of this area to date. Astronomers capture image of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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