First image of the Supermassive black hole in the Milky Way. Credit: ESO

Groundbreaking Achievement: Astronomers Photograph Our Galaxy’s Black Hole

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration has revealed the first-ever image of the shadow of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. 

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What is the Event Horizon Telescope?

The EHT (Event Horizon Telescope) is a global ultra-long baseline radio interferometer operating at a wavelength of 1.3 millimeters. Thanks to the synchronization of the work of telescopes located on different continents using atomic clocks and the use of supercomputers for data processing, astronomers achieved historical milestones for science.

Black holes in picture – a historical achievement

In 2019, for the first time in history, scientists obtained an image of the shadow of a supermassive black hole at the center of the active elliptical galaxy M87, saw its fluctuations, and measured the magnetic field near the hole.

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The second supermassive black hole whose shadow was to be captured in an image by the EHT was a black hole located in the center of the Milky Way, at a distance of about 27 thousand light-years from the Sun and associated with the Sagittarius A* radio source.

Initially, scientists learned about the existence of a compact object at the end of the last century by tracking the movement of stars near a black hole, for which the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 2020.

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Later, thanks to the GRAVITY collaboration, astronomers received new evidence that there is a black hole with a mass of 4.29 million solar masses at the center of the Milky Way. For such a mass, the radius of the event horizon is about 6 million kilometers, which is about 15 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

For the first time, we have an image of the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the Milky Way

On May 12, 2022, the EHT collaboration announced that it had obtained the first-ever image of the shadow of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

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This became possible due to the expansion of the operating wavelength range and the inclusion of new observatories in the EHT. Thus, astronomers have the final proof of the existence of such a massive compact object in the central zone of our galaxy.

One more look into the image of the black hole in the Milky Way. Credit: ESO
One more look into the image of the black hole in the Milky Way. Credit: ESO

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Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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