The world’s first image of the chaotic supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy doesn’t portray a voracious cosmic destroyer but what astronomers Thursday called a “gentle giant” on a near-starvation diet.
Astronomers believe nearly all galaxies, including our own, have these giant black holes at their center, where light and matter cannot escape, making it extremely hard to get images of them.
The black hole’s gravity is so powerful that it bends space and time and forms a glowing ring of light with eternal darkness at the core, The Washington Post said. Light gets bent and twisted around by gravity as it gets sucked into the abyss along with super-heated gas and dust.
The colorized image unveiled Thursday is from the international consortium behind the Event Horizon Telescope, a collection of eight synchronized radio telescopes around the world. Previous efforts to capture a good image found the black hole too jumpy.
“It burbled and gurgled as we looked at it,” the University of Arizona’s Feryal Ozel said.
She described it as a “gentle giant” while announcing the breakthrough along with other astronomers involved in the project.
It confirmed Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity by being precisely the size that Einstein’s equations dictate. This one is about the size of the orbit of Mercury, the small innermost planet around our sun.