What can be seen at the heart of the Milky Way? Well, recent reports confirmed that a supermassive black hole was at its core. For those who want further proof, astronomers released visual evidence of what is called Sagittarius A*.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a global team of scientists, had produced the first direct image which presents an oval-shaped looking void with bright rings of glowing gas around it. This follows after three years of the very first photo of a black hole from a distant galaxy.
Black holes are described as a region in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can’t escape. Harvard University astronomer Sara Issaoun explained that in a person’s POV from Earth, it looks the same size as a donut on the Moon’s surface.
Have you seen the picture of the black hole at the center of our galaxy?
The image of Sagittarius A* (inset) was taken by @EHTelescope. Now see it in context with support from our @ChandraXray, Swift and NuSTAR observatories. Here's what the colors mean: https://t.co/Qkt3Qu3v1r pic.twitter.com/BONW7QZhsu
— NASA (@NASA) May 12, 2022
The research by EHT involved more than 300 scientists from 80 different institutions around the world. The findings were published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters on Thursday, May 12.
Feeding off of its surroundings about 27,000 light-years away, Sagittarius A*, pronounced “sadge-ay-star”, is 4 million times larger than the sun. Its name stemmed from its detection in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.
According to astronomy and astrophysics professor Feryal Özel, the luminous ring around it was identified as a black hole’s “telltale shadow”. It’s assumed that nearly every galaxy contains black holes at its center since these massive voids don’t emit light, so astronomers are challenged to get direct views of them.
Banner: EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY/AFP