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Astronomy: the first image of the black hole in our galaxy revealed



Astronomy: the first image of the black hole in our galaxy revealed

In simultaneous press conferences around the world astronomers have shown the first image of a black hole located in our galaxy, the Milky Way. This image provides overwhelming evidence that the object is actually a black hole and provides valuable clues as to how these giants workwhich are thought to reside in most galaxies.

The image was produced by a global research team called the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, using observations from a worldwide network of radio telescopes. The image is a long-awaited look at the huge object that sits right in the center of our galaxy. This strongly suggests that this object, known as Sagittarius A *, is a black hole and today’s image provides the first direct visual evidence of it.

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Astronomy, for the first time seen the black hole in our galaxy

We obviously cannot see the black hole itself as it is dark, but the glowing gas around it reveal a dark central region surrounded by a ring-like luminous structure. The new view captures light bent by the black hole’s powerful gravity, which is four million times more massive than our Sun. These unprecedented observations have greatly enhanced our understanding of what is happening at the center of our galaxy and offer new insights into what is happening at the center of our galaxy. how these giant black holes interact with their surroundings.

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The black hole it is located approximately 27,000 light years from Earth and it appears to be the same size as a donut around the moon. To imagine this, the team created the mighty EHT, which they connected eight radio observatories existing all over the planet to form a single “Earth-sized” virtual telescope. The EHT observed Sgr A * for multiple nights, collecting data for many hours at a time, like a large camera. And precisely for this the researchers have used the most sensitive instruments of radio astronomy. The breakthrough follows the release of the EHT collaboration in 2019 of the first image of a black hole, called M87 *, at the center of the farthest galaxy Messier 87.

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Better understand the most extreme environments of the Universe

The two black holes don’t appear to be alike as that of our galaxy turns out to be smaller and less massive. This tells us that the general relativity rules these objects closely, and any differences we see further away must be due to differences in the material surrounding the black holes. The image of the black hole of Sgr A * is an average of the images extracted by the team, finally revealing for the first time the giant lurking at the center of our galaxy. This work clearly demonstrates the fundamental importance of using radio frequencies, millimeter and submillimeter for understand the most extreme environments of the universe.

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Using these frequency ranges is the only way to discover the unique environment surrounding the black hole which is completely obscured at other frequencies. Additionally, the researchers have also begun to use the new data to test theories and models for how to do it involves gas around supermassive black holes. This process is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to take place a key role in shaping the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Ph. Credit: ESO