The scientists who gave the world the first glimpse of a black hole have released their latest image, showing the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
Sagittarius A* is about 27,000 light-years from Earth and is considered supermassive because it has a mass of more than four million times that of our sun.
It’s only the second time visual evidence of such an object has been captured.
To produce the image “involved an international team of more than 300 scientists,” Xavier Barcons, director-general of the European Southern Observatory, said at a press conference on Thursday.
“These unprecedented observations have greatly improved our understanding of what happens at the very centre of our galaxy, and offer new insights on how these giant black holes interact with their surroundings,” Event Horizon Telescope Project Scientist Geoffrey Bower said of the new image in a statement.
We finally have the first look at our Milky Way black hole, Sagittarius A*. It’s the dawn of a new era of black hole physics. Credit: EHT Collaboration. #OurBlackHole #SgrABlackHole
Link: https://t.co/Ax7ECRVg8A pic.twitter.com/LRWizSYOy9
— Event Horizon ‘Scope (@ehtelescope) May 12, 2022
EHT last made headlines in 2019 when it captured the first image of a black hole some 55 million light-years away from Earth, with a mass 6.5 billion times that of the sun.
The feat was lauded as a major breakthrough in physics.
The collaboration of scientists reveals what is called the “event horizon”, the boundary at the edge of a black hole where the gravitational pull is so strong that no conventional physical laws apply and nothing can escape.
The image released on Thursday shows the shadow of the hole at the centre of glowing plasma.
The existence of black holes, one of the more mysterious objects in the cosmos, had been universally accepted even though little is known about them.
Black holes form from remnants of a large star that dies in a supernova explosion. Scientists estimate there could be as many as a billion black holes in the Milky Way, according to NASA.
“We were stunned by how well the size of the ring agreed with predictions from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity,” Bower said.