Astronomers using the Event Horizon Telescope released a picture in May of Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way
22 December 2022
It may seem blurry, but the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way has never been seen in such detail before. In fact, this is the first direct image of the cosmic behemoth, called Sagittarius A*, ever taken. It shows the black hole’s shadow against a pulsating background of hot plasma that is in the process of falling in.
The image was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of radio observatories spread around the globe that effectively operate as a single, enormous telescope. It is only the second image of a black hole ever created, after the EHT’s 2019 picture of the supermassive black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy.
While researchers gathered the data that makes up both of these images in 2017, the analysis was far more difficult for Sagittarius A*. That is partially because Sagittarius A* is one-thousandth the mass of M87*, so the plasma spiraling into it is much closer in and moves far faster, meaning it was changing as astronomers imaged it. While that delayed the release of this picture, it may eventually allow the team to create a video of how Sagittarius A* changes over time.
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