Observations of stars, planets and galaxies have shown what a small grain of sand in the infinite space our planet is. And yet we have something to brag about: we study the solar system, proved the presence of gravitational waves, and even enjoyed the first ever picture of the event horizon of a black hole. And yet our galaxy is full of secrets. For example, the galactic center, located at a distance of about 24,000 light-years from Earth, is not visible in optical light due to strong obscuration of interstellar dust. Fortunately, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team came to the aid of astronomers, who a few years ago gave the world an image of a black hole (more precisely, its shadow). The groundbreaking new discovery will be announced at a conference on March 12. We understand how astronomers can surprise us.
Mystery of the Galactic Center
Billions of stars and planets dance around the center of the Milky Way. In the heart itself, it is believed to be a supermassive black hole that is 4.3 million times more massive than the sun. Sagittarius A * (scientifically Sagittarius A * or Sgr A *) is probably surrounded by a hot radio-emitting gas cloud and has been a study object for about five years.
To find out exactly what the Galactic Center is, researchers needed eight ground-based radio telescopes around the world. At a conference on May 12, 2022, the EHT team and researchers from the European Southern Observatory will announce a groundbreaking discovery, according to an official statement from the US National Science Foundation (NSF).
The US National Science Foundation, in conjunction with the Event Horizon Telescope, will hold a press conference to announce a groundbreaking discovery in the Milky Way, according to an official statement.
According to media reports, the researchers will present to the world a photograph of the Milky Way’s galactic center. It is true that exactly what astronomers are preparing is not known for sure, so the surprised public will have to wait a bit.
Кстати, а вы знали что из центра Млечного Пути исходит странный, повторяющийся сигнал? Исследователи полагают, что его источником является неизвестный космический объект. Подробнее о новом открытии мы рассказывали здесь.
How does the heart of the galaxy “beat”?
Astronomers have previously used the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) to study the supermassive monster at the center of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87), which we have been enjoying for three years now. Compared to the M87, the Sagittarius A * is much closer to Earth and significantly smaller than the M87. But why was Sagittarius A * harder to observe than M87?
In fact, in the heart of the Milky Way, there is much more cosmic gas and dust, which disrupts the work of the radio telescope and raises questions from researchers. For example, how the EHT team was able to overcome this obstacle to allegedly get a different image of a black hole (or something more amazing).
Several years ago, we thought we would need to build a very large space telescope to image a black hole. But by making radio telescopes around the world work together as a single instrument, the EHT team was ahead of its time and reported a discovery ten years earlier than most scientists thought, NASA’s Paul Hertz said in a statement.
The groundbreaking discovery, the researchers say, was made possible by studying the black hole M87, as astronomers also observed Sagittarius A * and eventually discovered traces of powerful cosmic catastrophesbehind which there may be previously unknown phenomena.
Рентгеновские лучи с легкостью проходят сквозь космическую завесу. Создание подобных астрономических инструментов впервые в истории позволили человечеству заглянуть так далеко во Вселенную.
New space phenomenon
The center of the Milky Way is the point around which the galaxy orbits. The supermassive black hole found there absorbs all the matter surrounding it, which falls into the space monster with enormous acceleration. Gas streams rush at lightning speed towards the black hole, collide with each other and heat up more and more.
Due to this cosmic phenomenon, a black hole ceases to be black, because a cloud of hot plasma makes this massive object shine like a thousand suns. Sagittarius A * spews out streams of matter into outer space, despite the attractiveness of a massive monster.
The researchers note that many previously unknown processes take place in the heart of the Milky Way.
In addition, the activity of a black hole has a significant impact on the entire galaxy: Powerful radiation coming from Sagittarius A * disrupts the formation of stars and destroys any nearby planets regularly.
Sagittarius A * is, however, relatively quiet compared to the supermassive black holes in other galaxies. Astronomers are looking for reasons why this is happening and putting their hopes on the James Webb Space Telescope, which will show new data on the structure of the universe in early June.
О том, какие открытия ждут человечество благодаря телескопу Джеймса Уэбба, можно прочитать здесь.
The ability of the new telescope will detect infrared light, giving us an accurate picture of the area around a black hole. So the Web Telescope will help astronomers calculate the mass of Sagittarius A * by exploring the relationship between a black hole and the matter surrounding it. Impressive, right?
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, a press conference will take place on 12 May at 18:30 (IST) on 12 May, during which NSF’s Chief Operating Officer Karen Marrongell will give an opening speech. Following the press conference, ESO will also host an online event on the same platform and host an interactive live Q&A session.
Although researchers have previously studied the beam that extends more than 1,000 light-years from the center of the M87, it was not until 2019 that they were able to photograph the black holes of the home galaxy. In a study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers have revealed a new map of the center of the Milky Way.
Посмотреть конференцию можно на официальном сайте ESO и на канале ESO YouTube.
And so that waiting is not a burden, we offer you to refresh your memory most detailed map the place of black holes in the universe. Look forward to. How do you think astronomers will surprise us? As always, we are waiting for the answer here and in the comments to this article.