Wow do I have some ground-breaking news for you!
Astronomers collaborating with Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have produced the first ever image of our galaxy’s supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*! There’s not only one image, but multiple as explained by Dr Katie Bouman in the NSF conference following the images.
This is a fantastic feat, and this research succeeds the work to image M87, a much larger supermassive black hole that we discussed a few years ago. I’m guessing M87 was just Dr Katie Bouman’s warmup black hole, as you may recall that she wrote the programs to create these images from petabytes of data. That’s right, these images are made from a millions of gigabytes of data! For context, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have a total estimated 1000+ petabytes, and that’s almost the entire internet!
Similarly to M87, this image was taken by 8 telescopes connected together and acting as one, called the Event Horizon Telescope. This increases the resolution of any observations, and is executed using Very Long Baseline Interferometry.
Since it’s very difficult to view the Milky Way, these images had to undergo a lot of verification. One example if to confirm if the hot gas clouds’ placement and motion matched the theoretical motion as predicted by general relativity. This turned out a success, and you can learn more about what it took to make this breakthrough by watching LSF’s conference below:
Here’s more information on NRAO’s website
And as a personal note, I am halfway through exam Hell, so will be posting more frequently and hopefully making more videos on my own YouTube. So keep your eyes open for that!
I just kind of assumed we’d never be able to image Sag A*. I thought, since it was in the middle of the galactic bulge, that it would be obscured forever from our view. I’m so delighted to be proven wrong!
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The feeling’s mutual! I was quite curious as to how they made it look as though the black hole was facing us, but then I remember galaxies aren’t 100% flat and things in the centre orbit quite madly!
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