Scientists have just photographed something incredible at the center of our galaxy, which may pave the way for scientific breakthroughs.
A strange, swirling mass at the center of our galaxy has been the subject of fascination for scientists, and we may have just taken a major step forward in understanding what it is. Scientists have just used the Event Horizon Telescope to snap the first picture of the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy, and so far it looks like a success, although it will be about a year before supercomputers can crunch the data into a useful image.
The Event Horizon Telescope links telescopes around the world into one giant telescope that is connected virtually, giving it the diameter of the Earth. While it’s not the first time this technique has been used, it’s never been done on such a grand scale before.
And for good reason. While we can see black holes thanks to the huge energy they create when they suck in matter, images we’ve taken so far just look like a bright blur. If we could see it more clearly, especially the ring that serves as the “event horizon” past which nothing, not even light, can escape, we could potentially come to a much greater understanding of these mysterious forces.
“A long standing goal in astrophysics is to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole with angular resolution comparable to the event horizon,” the Event Horizon Telescope website states. “Realizing this goal would open a new window on the study of general relativity in the strong field regime, accretion and outflow processes at the edge of a black hole, the existence of an event horizon, and fundamental black hole physics. Steady long-term progress on improving the capability of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) at short wavelengths has now made it extremely likely that this goal will be achieved within the next decade.”