Supermassive Black Hole at Centre of Milky Way Seen for First Time

DEFENCE, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

The first image of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy has been captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

The name of the black hole is Sagittarius A* located 26,000 light-years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year. Our solar system is so distant from the galactic center because it is located in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy.

It was detected from its shadow which is traced out by a glowing, fuzzy ring of light and matter that is swirling on the precipice at close to the speed of light. 

It is our closest supermassive black hole but cannot be seen because no light or matter can escape its gravitational grip.

This supermassive black hole is relatively small, meaning that the dust and gas in its accretion disc orbit in a matter of minutes rather than weeks. It is consuming only a trickle of material, in contrast to the typical depiction of black holes as violent, ravenous monsters of the cosmos.

EHT project is an international collaboration launched in 2009, is a network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations from Antarctica to Spain and Chile. In 2019, it captured the first image of a black hole in a galaxy called Messier 87. Blackhole M87* is one of the largest black holes in the universe and features vast, powerful jets that launch light and matter from its poles into intergalactic space. 

A supermassive black hole is the largest type of black hole, with its mass being on the order of millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun.

 

   Important points for the exam:

  • The first image of the supermassive black hole has been captured at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).
  • The name of the black hole is Sagittarius A* located 26,000 light-years away.
  • It was detected from its shadow which is traced out by a glowing, fuzzy ring of light and matter that is swirling on the precipice at close to the speed of light. 
  • It is our closest supermassive black hole but cannot be seen because no light or matter can escape its gravitational grip.
  • A supermassive black hole is the largest type of black hole, with its mass being on the order of millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun.

   Facts to know:

  • Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project is an international collaboration launched in 2009.
  • EHT is a network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations from Antarctica to Spain and Chile.
  • EHT discovered M87*, a black hole in Messier 87 galaxy in 2019.
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