Has the black hole of the Milky Way come to light?

What is happening to our galaxy?

Astronomers have long suspected that 26,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius, lurking behind the clouds of dust and gas that envelop the center of the Milky Way, is a huge black hole. In this darkness, the equivalent of millions of stars have been sent to eternity, leaving a ghostly gravitational field and violently contorted space-time. Nobody knows where the door leads or what, if anything, is on the other side.

Humanity is now ready to take its innermost look at this chaos. Over the past decade, an international team of more than 300 astronomers has trained the Event Horizon Telescope, a worldwide network of radio observers, on Sagittarius A * (pronounced A-star), a faint source of radio waves – the supposed black hole – at the center of our galaxy. Thursday at 9:00 am Eastern time, the team, led by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Sheperd Doeleman, will release their latest findings at six simultaneous press conferences in Washington and around the world.

The team is determined not to speak to the media. But in April 2019, the same group stunned the world by producing the first image of a black hole – a supermassive energy torus in the galaxy Messier 87, or M87, surrounding the void.

“We saw what we thought was invisible,” said Dr. Doeleman said at that moment. That image is now housed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The uninformed bet is that the team has now managed to produce an image of Sagittarius A *, our donut of fate. If Dr Shepherd’s team saw the “invisible” once again, the result would reveal a lot about how the galaxy works and what takes place in its recess.

The results could be spectacular and informative, said Janna Levin, a gravitational theorist at Barnard College of Columbia University who was not part of the project. “I’m not bored with black hole pictures yet,” she said.