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International team captures 1st image of Milky Way black hole

This handout image released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on May 12, 2022, shows the first image of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy. (AFP)
This handout image released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on May 12, 2022, shows the first image of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy. (AFP)
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13 May 2022 03:05:04 GMT9
13 May 2022 03:05:04 GMT9

TOKYO: An international team including Japanese astronomers said Thursday that it has captured the first direct image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

The team captured the image of the black hole 27,000 light-years away from Earth by using the Event Horizon Telescope, which brings together eight radio observatories around the world to form a single Earth-size virtual telescope powerful enough to spot a golf ball on the moon.

This is the second-ever direct image of a black hole. The first one, which captured a huge black hole in the M87 galaxy 55 million light-years away, was released by the same team in 2019.

The Milky Way galaxy, which includes the sun and its planets such as Earth, has at its center a massive astronomical object that emits radio waves.

The object, called Sagittarius A (asterisk), was found to have mass four million times that of the sun in a space smaller than the solar system. This suggested that the object was a black hole.

“It’s our nearest black hole,” professor Mareki Honma of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, a member of the team, told a news conference. “We can learn various things because it’s close.”

Astronomers believe that many galaxies have supermassive black holes at their center. The newly obtained image is expected to help shed more light on such black holes.

It is very difficult to capture direct images of black holes because nothing, not even light, can escape from them because of their strong gravity. The team achieved a breakthrough when it captured the image of the M87 galaxy’s black hole.

JIJI Press

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