- For the first time, astronomers have succeeded in capturing an image of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way.
- The image actually shows the surroundings of a supermassive black hole, because the objects themselves are invisible by nature.
- Shows a dark central area surrounded by a shiny circular structure.
The recording was made possible by observations with the “Event Horizon Telescope” (EHT), which is the fusion of eight radio observatories on four continents to form a type of super telescope. The image of the collective monster at the heart of our galaxy is only the second image ever of a black hole.
light up the hot substance
Astronomers believe that there is a black hole at the center of most galaxies. Because of their massive mass, black holes do not allow light to escape, which makes them almost invisible. However, before being drawn into the black hole, the material heated up very quickly and then glowed brightly.
SRF Science Editor Katharina Buchler explains: “What shines brightly in the image is matter, which is swayed by the massive gravity of the black hole and heated to several billion degrees and glows before solids, gases and even light in the unseen vortex, fading, will never be seen again. “.
The Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn is heavily involved in the EHT. The researchers presented the results of their observations in a A special edition of the Astrophysical Journal. Before. The image of Sagittarius A* – the name of the black hole – fits well with the predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity for a black hole four million times the mass of our Sun, they report. The hole is probably spinning.
In 2019, EHT researchers provided the first-ever image of the immediate vicinity of a black hole – also a glowing ring with a dark center. The largest and most massive black hole was at the center of galaxy M87, about 55 million light-years away.
Although the black hole at the center of the Milky Way is much closer to Earth at a distance of about 27,000 light-years, the observations proved difficult. “The radiation from M87’s black hole is constant for hours,” explained Anton Zonsus of MPIfR in Bonn, one of the main initiators of the project. On the other hand, the object in the center of the galaxy changes in just a few minutes. So we had to develop completely new methods of evaluation.”
Through these observations, one can make progress on a whole range of astrophysical as well as fundamental physical questions.
Physicist Philip Getzer from the University of Zurich was also pleased with the image: “You can use it to learn more about the environment around the black hole. It is further confirmation that a black hole is in the center of the galaxy. With these observations, one can make progress on a whole range of physical questions. astrological and also basic physical questions”.
But there is still a lot to do. As the name “Event Horizon Telescope” says: In the future, researchers want to know what happens behind the so-called event horizon – beyond the boundary that separates the observable from the unseen, explains science editor SRF Bochsler. This is the limit beyond which light cannot escape the gravitational monster and from which the hole thus appears black.
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