Introducing our very own Black Hole, Sagittarius A*

Earlier today, an international team of astronomers announced they had successfully imaged the black hole located at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way galaxy. This is a significant achievement that required the efforts of hundreds working on massive data sets collected by several radio telescopes located around the globe. By using these telescopes as a single global instrument called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), the astronomers determined that the black hole (called Sag A* for short) is massive, about the size of the orbit of Mercury in our own solar system. Further, Sag A* is about 27,000 light years from our vantage point on Earth. To put that into a context that is easier to understand, the astronomers noted that is the equivalent of observing a donut on the surface of the Moon. Pretty impressive!

Astronomers have long had evidence for a black hole at the center of the Milky Way. They’ve recently imaged stars rotating around the black hole, and they’ve even successfully imaged a black hole at the center of another galaxy known as M87. Despite all this, we’ve never actually imaged Sag A* at the core of our Milky Way. Until now.

Of course, I’ve been taking photos of the center of the Milky Way for quite some time. Just sayin’. Sure, my techniques and gear don’t quite match that of the EHT, but I’m just one lowly photographer on a more limited budget. Still, I thought it would be interesting to compare some of my images of the galactic core with that of the EHT released today. So, I’ve included three of my images in this post. In each case, I’ve added a red X to mark the approximate location of Sag A*. This is where our black hole lives. I’ve also included the EHT image of Sag A*. I think you can easily tell which are mine and which one is from the EHT. Importantly, the EHT results are consistent with Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Science really is beautiful!

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