Astronomers on Thursday unveiled the first image of the “supermassive black hole” at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
“This result provides overwhelming evidence that the object is indeed a black hole and yields valuable clues about the workings of such giants, which are thought to reside at the center of most galaxies,” said the scientists in a release at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany.
The image of the black hole, named Sagittarius A*, or (Sgr A*), was captured by a global research team using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a global array of radio telescopes from Europe to Antarctica to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
“Although we cannot see the black hole itself, because it is completely dark, glowing gas around it reveals a telltale signature: a dark central region (called a “shadow”) surrounded by a bright ring-like structure,” said the statement.
“The new view captures light bent by the powerful gravity of the black hole, which is four million times more massive than our Sun,” it added.
The breakthrough comes after the EHT team’s 2019 release of the first-ever image of a black hole, called M87*, at the center of the distant Messier 87 galaxy.
Sagittarius A* is about 27,000 light-years away from Earth.