Astronomers Finally Photograph the 'Heart' of the Milky Way

Space May 16, 2022

If you were wondering what's lying in the very heart of the Milky Way we may disappoint you - it's not something you should tell your children about when they ask you about love, space, and all things in-between.

It just so happens  that in the very heart of our galaxy lies a humongous black hole known to scientists as Sagittarius A*. While calculations have pointed to there being a huge pit of darkness in the middle of our home galaxy, capturing such a beast via photography is not an easy task. The supermassive black hole is riddled with mystery, but like most black holes it's, well, black, and you can't photograph it just by any telescope.

Sagittarius A-star is so dense that even light can't get through it, and when it does come close to the black hole's event horizon and gets sucked into it - then it's lost forever in the darkness. That's how scientists know there's a black hole - by all that glowing matter that surrounds it, slowly getting sucked into the black nothingness.

Finally, the Event Horizon Telescope, along with 8 other telescopes located all across the world, managed to capture the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, or rather, the splashes of glowing matter that surround it. Still, you can tell there's a darkness inside there - and that's how we know that's a black hole. It's relatively calm and demure compared to some other supermassive black holes, which is even more puzzling to scientists as they still can't figure out what influences the black hole's 'behavior'.

Scientists needed to piece roughly 3.5 petabytes of date to create this simple image. And yes, that's a lot! It's roughly the size of 100 million small videos on TikTok, all mixed with extra data from other space objects. All that data needed to be sifted through until, finally, the image of Sagittarius-A* could be created.

Here's a simulation of what it probably looks like in 'real life' if we could go there and observe it with our own eyes.


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