Astronomers have released the first ever image of a black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
The highly anticipated discovery was teased by scientists over the past week, and the mystery has finally been revealed; visual evidence of Sagittarius A*, a supermassive black hole 27,000 light-years away from Earth and 17 times larger than the radius of our sun.
The image was captured using The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a series of eight radio telescopes positioned around our globe.
With the help of the EHT, astronomers found further evidence that there are supermassive black holes at the center of our galaxy, an observation theorized in Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
“We were stunned by how well the size of the ring agreed with predictions from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity," said EHT Project Scientist Geoffrey Bower from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taipei.
"These unprecedented observations have greatly improved our understanding of what happens at the very center of our galaxy, and offer new insights on how these giant black holes interact with their surroundings.”
This groundbreaking discovery comes just 3 years after EHT’s release of the first image of a black hole known as M87* which lies at the center of the distant Messier 87 galaxy.
Now that the EHT has produced two images of supermassive black holes, scientists are excited about the unique opportunity to compare the two for further research.
“We have images for two black holes — one at the large end and one at the small end of supermassive black holes in the Universe — so we can go a lot further in testing how gravity behaves in these extreme environments than ever before,” said EHT scientist Keiichi Asada from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taipei.
Though we have only captured images of two black holes, research suggests there could be hundreds of millions in our galaxy alone.
Technological advances on the EHT will allow future scientists to capture even more of these groundbreaking images.
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