For decades, astronomers have wondered what is at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. Today, scientists have unveiled the first-ever photograph of a supermassive black hole hiding there that offers a whole new view of our native galaxy.
The historical image what scientists call Sagittarius A *, taken by a world telescope called Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and released on Thursday (May 12), confirms Fr. black hole in the heart The Milky Way feed on hydrogen gas. EHT is best known for making the first ever black hole image of the M87 supermassive black hole in 2019but for the scientists involved in the project, today’s image is an even more remarkable milestone.
“I wish I could tell you that the second time is as good as the first one that reflects black holes. But that would be untrue. In fact, it’s better, ”Ferial Ezel, a leading EHT model and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Arizona, told a news conference on Thursday.
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Özel has been researching Sgr A *, as the black hole has been called, for 22 years since her graduate studies. Visualization of the second black hole with EHT shows that the telescope’s capabilities “were not accidental,” Ozel added, saying: “Now we know that in both cases, what we see is the heart of the black hole – the point of no return. “
It also felt like meeting old friends, she said, comparing it to the first meeting of an online friend in real life. “I had an idea in my head of what it looked like; we talked on the internet, and then I said, “Oh, you’re real!” Ezel said when the audience laughed. – It’s a very pleasant feeling.
However, years of research have failed to fully prepare the team for the emotional impact of the discovery. “I remember seeing it and just walking around in a daze,” team member Michael Johnson, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a professor of astronomy at Harvard University, told reporters.
“You look at this image,” Johnson added, “and this hole in the center has 4 million solar masses. It’s unbelievable. “
Katherine Bohmann, Rosenberg’s scientist and associate professor of computational and mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology, paid tribute to a number of disciplines and people needed to capture Sgr A *.
“It’s pretty amazing what we’ve been able to do by bringing people together with a lot of different knowledge,” Bohman said at the same news conference.
The EHT team observed Sgr A * long before today’s opening, but did not generate images from the original data. Sgr A * was considered more difficult to detect than the black hole in the center of the M87, although it is only half as small.
This is because Sgr A * is a relatively light supermassive black hole with a mass of 4.3 million suns with a more dynamic environment than the M87 with 6.5 billion solar masses. said. But now new images show that it was really possible to capture the black hole of our galaxy.
“As a member of the cooperation, I am just very proud that we were able to prevent all these problems, which were from the beginning, to prevent us from continuing to go,” Buman said.
“We were not afraid of uncertainty, all the missing information. We have figured out how to fight it, ”she added. “And so I’m very, very happy, and it’s a great honor to be able to work with people here. I think it’s just super exciting. I mean – that could be cooler than seeing a black hole in the center of our Milky Way ? »