First ever photo of ‘giant’ black hole in our galaxy released

It may look like a giant Krispy Kreme donut, but the image captured by the Event Horizon Telescope is in fact the supermassive black hole lying at the centre of our galaxy.

The image, published today, is the first picture ever taken of Sagittarius A*, the massive object that “glues” our galaxy together.

It’s only the second black hole photo ever captured.

Black holes, because of their incredibly powerful gravitational field, don’t emit any light so they’re impossible to photograph directly.

The image we see is the black object some four million times more massive than our own Sun, silhouetted against a huge cloud of plasma created as the object tears apart any stars, planets or clouds of interstellar gas that are careless enough fall into range of the black hole’s gravitational field.

The other challenge for scientists trying to capture an image of Sagittarius A*, is that the Earth lies on the rim of the Milky Way galaxy, and the black hole is 25,640 light years away at the galactic centre.

For reference, one light year is equal to 5,878,625,370,000 miles.

Between us and Sagittarius A* lie thousand upon thousands of stars ands planets, as well as strange star-like objects that whip around the black hole itself at unbelievable speeds.

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To create the final picture, the network of eight ground-based telescopes that makes up the Event Horizon Telescope—two each in Hawaii and Chile, and one each in Arizona, Mexico, Spain, and Antarctica— worked together to capture parts of the image.

Researchers then used a supercomputer to process their data – combining many snapshots taken over the course of several nights.

The process was much more challenging than the first ever black hole photograph, which showed a black hole named M87 located in a distant galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth.

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Feryal Özel, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona, explained to The Atlantic that to get a snapshot of Sagittarius A*, “we’re looking through everything that is between us and the centre of the galaxy, whereas for M87, we’re looking out and away from the Milky Way,”

To capture an image of a totally black object in the distance of over 25 thousand light years, with millions of obstacles in the way, represents a remarkable achievement by the Event Horizon Telescope team.

“This is what we wanted to deliver on all along,” says researcher Ziri Younsi at University College London. “This is what our black hole looks like.”

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