‘Groundbreaking Result’ of Milky Way’s Black Hole, Sagittarius A* Coming On May 12.

Astronomers, I am begging you: just tell us there’s a great picture of the Sagittarius A* coming on May 12. This isn’t a Marvel movie! You don’t have to give us this post-credit scene to tease us about the sequel.

First Picture Ever Taken of a Black Hole, at the Heart of M87 Galaxy by Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Source: ESO.org

Astronomers from Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)project are about to make a massive announcement about something in the Milky Way, our home galaxy. EHT project first unveiled the first image of a Black Hole that was ever taken on 10th April, 2019. After that, they published another image of the black hole showing its magnetic field. But now, we don’t know what result are we to hear soon. On May 12, the Event Horizon Telescope project is set to unveil what it calls “Groundbreaking Milky Way Results”. Though the details are scant about what exactly will be revealed, there is a strong possibility astronomers have been able to take a picture of the supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A* which lies at the centre of the Milky Way for the first time. A conference will be streamed about the findings online on 12 May at 13: 00 UTC (which is 6 pm in Nepal) followed by a YouTube event with six astronomers from around the world.

Credit: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The EHT was able to generate image by using eight radio telescopes from across the planet. Synchronizing these telescopes helped producing this image which is at the top of article. Further work revealed extreme magnetic fields associated with M87, allowing scientists to further understand the environment.

But EHT wasn’t studying just M87. The suite of telescopes that make it up had also been focused on Sagittarius A* since 2017. The black hole is about 4.3 Million times more massive than the Sun and lies 25, 000 light years away from the Earth.

Black holes are extremely difficult to image because they are quite literally invisible, absorbing all electromagnetic radiation. All we can hope to see is the event horizon; essentially the outline of black hole, which represents where light can no longer escape the black hole’s gravitational forces. Further, imaging Sagittarius A* is much harder because there’s a lot more stuff- cosmic dust and gas- that interferes with radio telescopes when looking towards the heart of Milky Way. That’s why it was “easier” (and I use that term very loosely) to get a photo of M87 first.

But… could EHT have overcome those issues? Heralding a result like this means something big is coming and this is the same playbook the collaboration used in announcing the results of M87. To be clear from the outset, the EHT collaboration has not suggested we’re going to get a new picture of black hole. They are merely calling this a groundbreaking discovery in Milky Way, but given the history of EHY, it is hard to imagine what else this could be.

That makes it hard to say exactly what the groundbreaking result will be, my bet would be on the second ever picture of a black hole and the first image of our home galaxy’s cosmic behemoth.

Astronomers, I am begging you: just tell us there’s a great picture of the Sagittarius A* coming on May 12. This isn’t a Marvel movie! You don’t have to give us this post-credit scene to tease us about the sequel. We know what you are up to and we are buying tickets to the show anyway!

And if this isn’t another black hole image, then the radio telescopes have found something else that warrants such foreshadowing. The results will be presented during a press conference at 6 pm in Nepal.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store