See the first image of the largest black hole in our galaxy

(CNN Spanish) –– For the first time, astronomers were able to capture the first image of a giant black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy called Sagittarius A *. According to the European Southern Observatory (ESO) That is a statement The film “provides great evidence that it actually sheds valuable clues about a black hole and its functions”.

This is the first image of Sgr A *, the largest black hole in the center of our galaxy. (Credit: European Southern Observatory)

This photo is the first direct observation confirming the presence of Sagittarius A * at the heart of this galaxy.

The black holes do not emit light, but the image shows a shadow surrounded by a bright ring of light being diverted by the gravitational pull of the black hole. Astronomers say the black hole is 4 million times larger than our Sun.

Michael Johnson, an astronomer at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astronomy, says: “For decades, astronomers have been wondering what’s in the heart of our galaxy, pulling stars into tight orbits by its enormous gravity.

“Through this image we have come a thousand times closer to these orbits, where gravity grows a million times stronger. At this close range, the black hole accelerates near the speed of light and orbits the paths of photons (space-time),” he added.

Capture a black hole as a group

The event was filmed by the Horizon Telescope (EHT) Enrolled in eight existing radio labs Around the planet to create a single virtual telescope called the “Earth Size”, ESO explained. “The telescope event is named after the horizon, and no light can escape beyond the edge of the black hole,” the laboratory added. More than 300 researchers from 80 companies participated in the effort.

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In fact, the image we now know about the black hole Sgr A * is the average of the different images extracted from EHT’s 2017 observations.

The black hole is about 27,000 light years away from Earth. Our solar system is located in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way, which is why we are so far away from the center of the galaxy. If we could see this in our night sky, the black hole would appear to be the size of a donut sitting on the moon.

“We were amazed at how well the size of the ring matched Einstein’s predictions of general relativity,” said Jeffrey Bower, EHT project scientist at the Xenia Academy of Astronomy and Astronomy Institute in Taipei.

“These unprecedented observations have greatly improved our understanding of what is going on at the center of our galaxy, and provide new insights into how these giant black holes interact with their surroundings,” he added.

The results of this finding were released in a special edition on Thursday Letters from the Journal of Astronomy.

Looking for the black hole

It took astronomers 5 years to capture and confirm this image and this discovery. Earlier, scientists observed stars orbiting a massive, invisible object in the center of the galaxy.

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The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 was awarded to scientists Roger Benrose, Reinhard Jensel and Andrea Guess for their discoveries about black holes. Among them is evidence shared by Ghez and Genzel about the mass of matter at the center of the Milky Way.

“Now we see the black hole absorbing the gas and light around it and pulling them into a bottomless pit,” said Ramesh Narayan, a theoretical astronomer at the Harvard & Smithsonian Astronomical Center. “This film confirms decades of theoretical work to understand how black holes feed,” he said.

This is the second film that manages to capture the black hole. The first is a key EHT capable of capturing images of M87 * at the center of the distant galaxy Messier 87, located 55 million light-years away in 2019.

These are the first two images of black holes. M87 * on the left and Sagittarius A * on the right.

Although the two images are identical, Sagittarius is 1,000 times smaller than A * M87 *.

“We have two completely different types of galaxies and two different mass black holes, but near the edge of these black holes they are miraculously identical,” said Sera Markoff, co-chair of the EHT Science Council and professor of theoretical astronomy. University of California in a statement to Amsterdam.

“This tells us that (Einstein’s general theory of relativity) manages these objects closely. And any differences we see further must be due to differences in the materials around the black hole.”

Captures the impossible image

Even though the Milky Way black hole was close to Earth, it was very difficult to capture its image.

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“The gas closest to black holes orbits Sgr A * and M87 * at almost the same speed as light,” said C-Kwan Chan, an EHT scientist at the Steward Laboratory in the Department of Astronomy and Data Science. The Institute of the University of Arizona said in a statement.

“But while it may take days or weeks for the gas to orbit the large M87 *, the smallest Sgr A * completes its orbit in a matter of minutes, which means that the brightness and shape of the gas around Sgr A * changes rapidly as EHT sees it. It was like trying to get a clear picture. “

If the giant black holes M87 * and Sagittarius A * were in succession, Sagittarius A * would be dwarfed by M87 *, which would be 1,000 times larger.

The global network of astronomers had to develop new tools to allow the rapid movement of gas around Sagittarius A *. The average number of different photos taken by the film crew they received. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have explained that capturing a Sagittarius A * image is similar to taking a salt grain in New York City using a camera in Los Angeles.

Catherine Bowman, a Rosenberg scholar and assistant professor, explained, “This image of the Event Horizon telescope required more than just a picture of telescopes on high mountains. It was the result of technically challenging telescope observations and innovative computational methods.” Computer Science and Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Astronomy at Caltech, during a press conference.

Bouman also worked on the filming of the 2019 M87 *. Although the image of Sagittarius A * appears blurry, “it’s one of the sharpest images ever made,” Bouman said.

Each telescope is pushed to the limit, which is called the diffraction limit, or the maximum microscopic features it can observe.

“This is basically the situation we see here,” Johnson told a news conference. “It’s blurry because to create a sharp image, we have to move the telescopes farther or go to higher frequencies.”

Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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