See The Jaw-Dropping First Image Of The Black Hole ‘Enigma’ At The Heart Of Our Galaxy Just Revealed By Astronomers

The first ever image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy has been published by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). It comes from the same team of over 300 international scientists who produced the first ever image of a black hole in another galaxy in 2019.

The dramatic new image—above—of what astronomers call Sagittarius A* (pronounced “Sagittarius A-Star”) was revealed today at a press conference at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) headquarters as well as a series of simultaneous events around the world. It follows 10 days of rumors and conjecture about what exactly was going to be announced.

Taken using a network of 11 telescopes across the globe, the image actually shows not the black hole itself, but the shadow of the event horizon around Sagittarius A*—hence the name of the EHT.

A black hole is a massive, dense place in space where a gravitational field is so strong that not even light can not get out.

An event horizon is the boundary marking the limits of a black hole, effectively its surface. It’s where an object could escape from the black hole’s gravitational pull. However, beyond it everything is doomed.

With this image the EHT has completed what it set out to do back in 2015.

What is Sagittarius A*?

It’s the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It’s about 22 million miles across and a powerful sources of radio waves.

It was first discovered in 1974, but until now it’s not been possible to image it. It’s hoped that this new image will help astronomers study the properties of the accretion and outflow around our galaxy’s center. It will also further the study of fundamental black hole physics.

Where is Sagittarius A*?

About 27,000 light-years distant from us, Sagittarius A* is near the border of the constellations of Sagittarius (the Archer) and Scorpius (the Scorpion). It’s in that black, dusty lane in the above image of the Milky Way.

Here’s a labeled map of our galaxy’s center, with the exact location of Sagittarius A* marked upon it:

What is the EHT?

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project creates images of black holes. It uses a global network of radio observatories in unison to effectively create an Earth-sized telescope.

It uses these 11 telescopes around the world:

What about the previous black hole image?

In 2019 the EHT released the first ever image of black hole at the center of the supergiant elliptical galaxy M87, which is in the constellation Virgo. It revealed a bright ring-like structure with a dark central region — the black hole’s shadow.

The second-largest black hole as seen from Earth, it’s about 1,000 times larger than the Milky Way’s black hole, but 2,000 times more distant.

The initial image published in 2019 was updated in 2021 to include the polarized light around the M87 black hole:

Polarised images like this are key to understanding how the magnetic field allows the black hole to “eat” matter and launch powerful jets.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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