Pics or it didn’t happen. Scientists have confirmed that the Milky Way Galaxy swirls around a supermassive black hole. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) captured photographs, which are the first direct visual evidence of its existence.
Until today, Sagittarius A*, also referred to as Sgr A*, was only considered the most likely explanation. In fact, the scientists awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics studied how the behavior our galaxy suggested we had a supermassive black hole in the center, but weren’t able to prove it conclusively. There are a lot of mysteries surrounding black holes, and physics in general. What lies at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is no longer one of them.
You may recognize the EHT as the telescope that took the first ever photo of a black hole back in 2019. That one, in galaxy M87, is 1,500 times larger than the one in our galaxy. In 2021, the Event Horizon Telescope team revealed a more detailed polarized photo of M87. It also photographed a supermassive black hole in the nearby galaxy Centaurus A.
The Event Horizon Telescope is actually a series of telescopes around the world. They are linked together in order to process information about the enormous size of black holes. It was previously able to measure how big Sgr A* is, but it took more time to gather photographic evidence. The video below explains how the Event Horizon Telescope works. Or check out the National Science Foundation’s site for lots more details.
Scientists announced the news with simultaneous press conferences in Germany, Mexico, Chile, Taiwan, China, and Japan. But it came just too late to celebrate Black Hole Week.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.