Scientists unveil image of huge black hole at Milky Way's center

Scientists have provided the first look at the monster lurking at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, unveiling an image of a supermassive black hole that devours any matter wandering within its gargantuan gravitational pull.

The black hole - called Sagittarius A*, or SgrA* - is only the second one ever to be imaged. The feat was accomplished by the same Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) international collaboration that in 2019 unveiled the first-ever photo of a black hole - that one residing at the heart of a different galaxy.

Sagittarius A* possesses 4 million times the mass of our sun and is located about 26,000 light-years - the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km) - from Earth.

Black holes are extraordinarily dense objects with gravity so strong that not even light can escape, making viewing them quite challenging. A black hole's event horizon is the point of no return beyond which anything - stars, planets, gas, dust and all forms of electromagnetic radiation - gets dragged into oblivion. 

The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy that contains at least 100 billion stars. Viewed from above or below it resembles a spinning pinwheel, with our sun situated on one of the spiral arms and Sagittarius A* located at the center.

The Event Horizon Telescope is a global network of observatories working collectively to observe radio sources associated with black holes. The project was begun in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole.

Thursday's announcement was made in simultaneous news conferences in the United States, Germany, China, Mexico, Chile, Japan and Taiwan.

(Source: Reuters) 


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