WASHINGTON (AP) — Astronomers have unveiled the first wild but fuzzy image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.
Nearly all galaxies, including our own, are believed to have these giant black holes at their center, where light and matter cannot escape. That makes it extremely hard to get pictures of them.
The image released Thursday was made by eight synchronized radio telescopes around the world.
This is not the first picture of a black hole. The same international group released the first one in 2019 from a distant galaxy.
The following is from the Event Horizon Telescope:
“The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very centre of our galaxy. Scientists had previously seen stars orbiting around something invisible, compact, and very massive at the centre of the Milky Way. This strongly suggested that this object — known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*, pronounced “sadge-ay-star”) — is a black hole, and today’s image provides the first direct visual evidence of it.
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.”
EHT said because the black hole is about 27,000 light years away from Earth, its relative size appears to be in the same in the sky as that of a donut on the moon.
Travis Pittman contributed to this report.