“What’s more cool than seeing the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way.”
Caltech astronomer Katherine Bouman on the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, released on Thursday.
may 12, 2022
- Why It Matters: This image captured by the Event Horizon Telescope — eight synchronized radio telescopes located all over the world — provides the first look at the Milky Way galaxy's black hole, which is named Sagittarius A* (Sgr A* for short, which is pronounced "sadge-ay-star"). It also allows scientists to learn more about the center of our galaxy and black holes in general.
- The historic moment was made possible by over 300 researchers from around the world who make up the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration. In their press release, they explain: "Although we cannot see the black hole itself, because it is completely dark, glowing gas around it reveals a telltale signature: a dark central region (called a 'shadow') surrounded by a bright ring-like structure. The new view captures light bent by the powerful gravity of the black hole, which is four million times more massive than our sun."
- In a black hole, light and matter are unable to escape due to the black hole's extremely strong gravitational pull. However, astrophysicist Freyal Özel of the University of Arizona described the black hole at the center of our galaxy as a "gentle giant" that is "eating very little."
- Interesting To Note: Although this is the first image of our galaxy's black hole, this isn't the first image of a black hole ever captured. In 2019, EHT released the first-ever image of a black hole, which was from a galaxy 53 million light years away from earth. Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of our galaxy, is about 27,000 light years away.
- How far is one light-year? Nearly 6 trillion miles!
Astronomers reveal first image of the black hole at the heart of our galaxy (Event Horizon Telescope)
Astronomers capture 1st image of Milky Way's huge black hole (Associated Press)
What Are Black Holes? (NASA)