Black Hole Images Revealed in Milky Way

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Courtesy of Chaval Brasil (Flickr CC0)

The Event Horizon Telescope has captured the first-ever images of the Sagittarius A*, which is a black hole located in the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Scientists say this discovery is “groundbreaking” and the results will be revealed today, May 12, 2022.

What Is a Black Hole?

A black hole is a pull of gravity so strong that light cannot escape, according to NASA. The gravity compresses matter into a tiny space. This happens when a star is in the process of dying. Black holes cannot be seen because they absorb light. Telescopes equipped with special tools can see stars that are dying because they behave differently than live stars.

black hole
Courtesy of Bengt Nyman (Flickr CC0)

Scientists believe the smallest black hole is the size of an atom. They may be tiny but have a mass of a mountain. Mass is the amount of matter within the black hole.

Sagittarius A*

The image of Sagittarius A* was released around the globe during six simultaneous press conferences that included a question and answer period. The massive black hole is four times the size of the Sun. The image reveals a central dark region circled by a light emanating from an intense gravitational pull. The ring is approximately the size of Mercury’s orbit around the Sun.

This black hole is 26,000 light-years away, therefore, Earth is not in any danger of being pulled in by its gravitational force.

In 2019, researchers were able to capture an image of another black hole in Messier 87 – another galaxy. That black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun.

This new image is unique because it is in the Milky Way, stated Professor Heino Falcke, who is one of the European leaders on this Event Horizon project. The telescope was able to capture “intricate details” of Sagittarius A*, according to Falcke who is a German-Dutch scientist from Radboud University Nijmegen.

Written by Jeanette Vietti

Sources:

BBC News: Black Hole: First Picture of Milky Way Monster
NASA: What Is a Black Hole?

Featured Image Courtesy of Chaval Brasil‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Bengt Nyman‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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