This is the first picture of the black hole at the center of our galaxy

The painting is made possible by linking eight existing radio observatories around the world into a single “Earth-sized” virtual telescope that can collect hours of data over multiple nights.

This new image may look very similar to 2019’s M87*, but the masses of the two black holes and the types of galaxies around them are very different. The researchers were able to calculate that Sagittarius A*, at the center of our small spiral galaxy, was consuming gas at a much slower rate than M87*, at the center of the giant elliptical galaxy, and spewing out powerful jets. plasma.

Despite being closer to us, Sagittarius A* is harder to catch than M87*. That’s because the gas surrounding Sagittarius A* completes an orbit in just a few minutes, while the gas orbiting the much larger M87* takes days to weeks, causing rapid changes in the gas’s brightness and pattern. The team likened capturing it to “trying to get a clear picture of a puppy chasing its tail fast”. To make the black hole visible, they developed sophisticated new tools to explain the motion of the gas.

“If Sagittarius A* were the size of a doughnut, then M87* would be the size of the Allianz Arena, and the Munich football stadium is just a few kilometers from where we are today,” said NASA Love of the Harvard and Smithsonian Center. Sara Issaoun, Einstein researcher for astrophysics, told a news conference at the European Southern Observatory in Germany. “This similarity revealed to us a key aspect of black holes, regardless of their size or the environment they’re in. Once you get to the edge of the black hole, gravity takes over.”

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