Scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery about a supermassive black hole in the terrestrial galaxy, that’s what you need to know.
It looks like something out of a sci-fi blockbuster, but this latest space discovery is very, very real.
An international team of scientists will reveal a “groundbreaking” discovery in the heart of our galaxy at 11pm (AEST) via a live YouTube stream.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is said to have captured images of Sagittarius A * (Sgr A *), a supermassive black hole in the middle of the Milky Way.
It will be the second time the EHT has captured images of a black hole after it unveiled the first-ever footage of one in the center of the galaxy of Messier 87 (M87), some 55 million light-years away, in 2019. .
The image revealed a bright yellow and red ring of superheated gas and dust around black hole M87.
Since then, the EHT’s international network of observers has focused its attention on the capture of Sgr A *, in the hope that it will unlock the secrets of the Milky Way’s evolution and prove the existence of event horizons – or the “point of no return “of a black hole”.
But, before you see it, first a quick scientific explanatory.
What is the black hole of Sgr A *?
First detected in 1970, the black hole of Sgr A * was blocked in the 1990s by two separate teams from the United States and Germany who studied the precise movements of the stars in the middle of our galaxy. Movement, they determined, could only be possible under the influence of a black hole.
Estimates from NASA Sgr A * is located about 27,000 light years from Earth, about 9.5 trillion km, or the distance traveled by light in a year.
It is but a child in the supermassive scheme of things, about 4 million times the mass of our Sun. It is tiny compared to the black hole M87 which is much larger and brighter, with a mass of about 6.5 billion Suns.
Why is Sgr A * important?
Scientists believe that supermassive black holes such as Sgr A *, which have collapsed under their own immense gravity, form a kind of “event horizon” barrier that, once traversed, cannot be escaped.
But the black hole Sgr A * is unique in that there isn’t a star large enough or close enough to collapse directly into a black hole of its size. Hopefully, capturing footage of this black hole will reveal its origin and the evolution of the Milky Way millions of years ago.
Have we seen it before?
So far our opinion on Sgr A * has been limited to the material that flew around it.
In 2010Chandra X-ray Observatory took a snapshot of the center of our galaxy which showed the remnants of a massive explosion near Sgr A * and large hot gas bubbles extending for a dozen light years on either side, as well as mysterious X-ray filaments.
The EHT team previously modeled what they suspect the black hole might be, but the simulation is confusing due to the gas and dust around its overwhelming center of gravity.
What can we expect to see?
But given the hype the EHT made at tonight’s announcement, astrophysicists say we can expect more of an orange ring like M87.
Some have predicted to see some kind of “jet phenomenon” explode from the black hole; but Swinburne University astrophysicist Alister Graham says the image could reveal not one, but two supermassive black holes surrounding each other.
Something, he says, has been “long overdue” by scientists.
“Our Milky Way has a lot of debris trails from smaller galaxies … that have been captured and torn apart,” said the prof. Graham he told ABC.
“Some of these prisoners may have unleashed huge black holes that are now heading towards, or already are, the center of our galaxy.”
As you can see black get
If normal telescopes don’t do the trick, you can bet our normal human eyes won’t cut it either.
Originally published as Get your first look at the black hole monster discovered near Earth