New York.- Astronomers announced today that they had drilled through the veil of darkness and dust at the center of our Milky Way galaxy to capture the first image of the “gentle giant” that dwells there: a supermassive black hole, a trapdoor in space-time. Through which the equivalent of 4 million suns have been sent into eternity, leaving behind only their gravity and violently warped space-time.
The image, released at six simultaneous press conferences in Washington, DC and around the world, showed a lumpy donut of radio broadcast framing an empty space as dark and silent as death itself.
The new image joins the first image of a black hole, produced in 2019 by the same team, which photographed the monster at the heart of M87. The new image shows new details of the astrophysical violence and gravitational weirdness that dominates the center of our placid hive of starlight.
The artificially colored image was released Thursday by the international consortium that maintains the Event Horizon Telescope, a collaboration of eight synchronized radio telescopes around the world.
Feryal Ozel of the University of Arizona announced the new image of what he called “the gentle giant at the center of our galaxy.”
The black hole in the Milky Way is called Sagittarius A (asterisk) and is located near the edge of the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpio. Its mass is 4 million times that of the Sun.
This is not the first image of a black hole. The same group distributed the first in 2019, from a galaxy 53 million light years away. The Milky Way’s black hole is much closer: it is 27,000 light-years away. One light year is equal to 9.5 billion kilometers.
The project cost almost 60 million dollars, with a contribution of 28 million from the National Science Foundation of the United States.