On Thursday an international consortium behind the Event Horizon Telescope revealed pictures of the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
Incredibly tough to get a picture of, especially since light gets bent and twisted around by gravity as it gets sucked into the abyss along with superheated gas and dust, a collection of eight synchronized radio telescopes around the world finally managed to capture the jumpy black hole.
University of Arizona’s Feryal Ozel described the black hole- named Sagittarius A*- as a “gentle giant” while announcing the breakthrough along with other astronomers involved in the project. The picture also confirms Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity: The black hole is precisely the size that Einstein’s equations dictate. It is about the size of the orbit of Mercury around our sun.
Scientists had expected the Milky Way’s black hole to be more violent, especially since the only other image from another galaxy shows a far bigger and more active black hole.
“It is the cowardly lion of black holes,” said project scientist Geoffrey C. Bower of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Because the black hole “is on a starvation diet” so little material is falling into the center, and that allows astronomers to gaze deeper, Bower said.