First Image Of Supermassive Black Hole at The Center of Milky Way Galaxy Revealed12 May, 2022
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For the first time, astronomers have captured an image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.
It's the first direct observation confirming the presence of the black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, as the beating heart of the Milky Way.
Black holes don't emit light, but the image shows the shadow of the black hole surrounded by a bright ring, which is light bent by the gravity of the black hole. Astronomers said the black hole is 4 million times more massive than our sun.
"For decades, astronomers have wondered what lies at the heart of our galaxy, pulling stars into tight orbits through its immense gravity," Michael Johnson, astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, said in a statement.
"With the (Event Horizon Telescope or EHT) image, we have zoomed in a thousand times closer than these orbits, where the gravity grows a million times stronger. At this close range, the black hole accelerates matter to close to the speed of light and bends the paths of photons in the warped (space-time)."
The black hole is about 27,000 light-years away from Earth. Our solar system is located in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy, which is why we're so distant from the galactic center. If we could see this in our night sky, the black hole would appear to be the same size as a doughnut sitting on the moon.
"We were stunned by how well the size of the ring agreed with predictions from Einstein's Theory of General Relativity," said EHT project scientist Geoffrey Bower from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, in a statement.
"These unprecedented observations have greatly improved our understanding of what happens at the very (center) of our galaxy, and offer new insights on how these giant black holes interact with their surroundings."
The results of this groundbreaking discovery were published Thursday in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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