Episodes
Video Extras
ArticlesLinks
More
Back

First Look At The Heart Of The Milky Way From New Black Hole Images

Scientists have captured the first image of the monster black hole lurking at the heart of our galaxy.

A black hole is a region of space where matter has collapsed in on itself, the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape

The black hole, known as Sagittarius A* or Sgr A*, lies 27,000 light-years from the Sun.

All previous knowledge about the supermassive black hole was based on indirect measurements of stars looping around the galactic centre, snared in its gravitational grip - until now.

"Until now we didn't have the direct picture confirming Sgr A* was indeed a black hole," said Professor Feryal Özel of the University of Arizona. 

"This is the first picture of the gentle giant at the centre of our galaxy."

Getting an image of our cosmic monster was "not an easy journey", Professor Özel said.

"It was extra challenging because … Sgr A* burbled and gurgled as we looked at it."

"It is really incredible that this prediction from Einstein's theory of general relativity matches the mass measured by the Nobel Prize-winning studies of stellar orbits in our galactic centre."

"But this new image is special because it's our supermassive black hole," said Prof Heino Falcke, one of the European pioneers behind the EHT project.

 

"This is in 'our backyard', and if you want to understand black holes and how they work, this is the one that will tell you because we see it in intricate detail," the German-Dutch scientist from Radboud University Nijmegen told BBC News.