The Milky Way has a black hole!
In what can very well be called the astronomical discovery of the century, astronomers have uncovered the existence of a supermassive black hole right in the middle of our galaxy.
This black hole’s image was released in six simultaneous news conferences around the globe. At first glance, the image doesn’t seem like much, a lumpy doughnut-like object that seems out of focus. However, it has finally provided visual evidence of a black hole, four million times more massive than the sun.
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In the image, we can’t see the massive object itself, because of the pitch-black dark. However, we can see glowing gas around it, revealing a telltale signature; a dark central region known as a shadow, surrounded by a bright ring-like structure.
Previously, scientists had witnessed stars orbiting around something invisible and massive right at the centre of the Milky Way but this is the first proof they have got.
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The object is situated around 27,000 light-years away from our Earth.
Image for this black hole named Sagittarius A* or Sgr A* (pronounced “sadge-ay-star”) was produced by the Event Horizon Telescope or EHT, Collaboration, using observations from a worldwide network of radio telescopes.
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“We were stunned by how well the size of the ring agreed with predictions from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity,” says Geoffrey Bower of the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, an EHT Project Scientist.
“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.”
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