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Astronomers capture image of black hole at center of the Milky Way

News Agencies | Updated on: 16 May 2022, 11:06 IST
Black hole Sgr A

Astronomers snapped an image of a supermassive black hole for the first time in history. This is the second result of the research team since 2019, when it presented a picture of the M87 black hole. The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) also participated in the research.

Scientists said the result is a milestone in the history of astronomy. Humans have taken one more step closer to the secret of the birth of the universe.

According to the KASI on May 12, Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, the global joint research team formed by more than 300 researchers from 80 institutions, captured the image of the supermassive black hole "Sgr A" at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

This is the result made in three years since the team succeeded in observing the shadow of the black hole in the core of the galaxy M-87.

The black hole Sgr A is located at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, 27,000 light years from Earth. It is roughly 4 million times the mass of the sun.

Dr. Sohn Bong-won at the KASI said, "The Sgr A is the closest supermassive black hole to Earth that humans have ever observed."

As the Sgr A is 2,000 times closer to Earth than the black hole in M87, it is a strong target for black hole research. However, the Sgr A is 1,500 times more compact than M87 black hole, which means that drawing out Sgr A was far more difficult as the gas flow moves faster and change rapidly.

The EHT used for the research is a virtual super ultra-telescope coordinated by eight radio observatories around the world. The team captured a clear image of the black hole by analyzing the black hole's radio signal data observed by the eight telescopes and translating the signals into a representative image of the black hole.

An official from the KASI explained the telescope's performance, "It is able to read newspapers in New York while sitting at a cafe in Paris."

To process massive black hole observation data, the team analyzed data by using supercomputers and conducted simulations for five years. After calibrating data and making the image, the ream succeeded in observing the shadow and ring-like structure of the Sgr A.

Three Korean VLBI Network (KVN) of the KASI also participated in the project. The three units observed that the structure of the Sgr A black hole is close to a sphere shape, and the accretion disk of the black hole is facing Earth head-on.

Korean researchers, including the KASI, carried out various tasks of the research such as operation of Chile's Atacama Large Millimeter, submillimeter Array (ALMA) and Hawaii's James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) to observe and process data.


First published: 16 May 2022, 11:06 IST