100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
First image of our galaxy's black hole
Although everything in the galaxy spins around it, it was notoriously hard to photograph — here's why
Astronomers capture first image of supermassive black hole at our galaxy's center
At the center of the Milky Way galaxy is a massive, mysterious presence exerting a powerful influence on the stars…
Supermassive black hole in our galaxy captured for first time in astonishing picture
The image is the first direct visual evidence of the "giant lurking at the centre of our galaxy".
Say hello to Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy
On May 12, 2022, astronomers on the Event Horizon Telescope team released an image of a black hole called Sagittarius…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
The Welsh astronomer who helped reveal first image of supermassive black hole at heart of galaxy
The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very centre of our Galaxy
Scientists Capture First-Ever Image Of ‘Unseeable’ Black Hole
Milky Way phenomenon said to be 4 million times bigger than the sun.
Get all your news in one place
Latest National news:
COVID-19 made me sell meth, 'disgraced' drug trafficker claims
The 37-year-old faces the prospect of deportation after he was sentenced on Monday to nine-and-a-half months in jail.
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
Barnaby Joyce signals Nationals could drop support for net zero emissions
Party leader refuses to rule out split from Liberals, saying it’s a ‘decision for both parties’ but his ‘preference’ is…
Federal election 2022 live: Albanese and Wong head to Quad meeting in Japan; Frydenberg concedes Kooyong to Monique Ryan
Follow all the day’s developments
Health Minister infected as COVID hospital numbers remain high
The ACT recorded 622 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours until Sunday 8pm.
Even When Labor Frees The Murugappans, It Will Still Support Offshore Detention For Everyone Else
If Labor doesn't bring the Biloela family home ASAP...
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
'Far more serious' child sex charges likely for former world champion climbing coach
More alleged victims have been identified, a Canberra court heard on Monday.
Scanning the brain for food addiction
Topics: Food for thought and piano removal.

The first image of the black hole lying in our galaxy

Comparison of the sizes of two black holes: M87*, left, and Sagittarius A*. Picture: Lia Medeiros/Event Horizon Telescope collaboration

On Thursday night, the Event Horizon Telescope released the very first image of the supermassive black hole that lies at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.

Called Sagittarius A*, it weighs about 4 million times the mass of the sun. Getting an image of this, once thought impossible, was an amazing technical achievement.

We have had measurements and data of the supermassive black hole for decades.

Using telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, scientists have monitored the orbits of stars near Sagittarius A*.

By carefully monitoring the movement of stars around Sagittarius A*, they could calculate their orbit, and therefore the amount of gravity needed for that orbit.

If you can calculate the gravity, you then also can figure out the mass. This same method was used to calculate the mass of the sun.

However, while these images showed what the supermassive black hole was doing, we could not see the black hole itself.

A black hole is an area in space where the gravity is so strong, nothing, not even light, can escape.

It is an area where a massive amount of matter has been squeezed together into a small area. And where you have mass, you have gravity.

They are not tears or "holes" in the universe - they are real objects. In fact, black holes are spheres, like a ball sitting in space just like earth or the sun.

When a big star, anywhere between 10 and 60 times the mass of our sun dies, part of the inside of the star collapses down. Imagine squeezing something the size of our sun, into a single point in space.

Stellar mass black holes are the baby black holes, the result of exploding (or rather collapsing) stars about 10 - 60 times the mass of our sun.

There could be upwards of 10 - 50 million of these black holes in our Milky Way galaxy alone.

Over time, these smaller black holes merge or collide to get bigger and bigger until we get the supermassive black holes.

One key part of the black hole, big or small, is called the event horizon.

This is the boundary of the black hole, the point where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape.

As such, everything past this point has no light, and therefore looks black, hence black hole.

But how do you image a black hole when there is no light? You are not looking at the black hole directly, but they cast a shadow or silhouette that one can see.

You can image all of the gas and stars swirling around the black hole - behind, on the side, and even in front.

However, anything behind will be blocked by the black hole.

Black holes get the wrap for being giant space vacuum cleaners - sucking anything and everything. However, you have to be close to the black hole to get sucked in. At nearly 26,000 light years away, the earth is safe.

We can enjoy the beauty of the black hole beast from a safe distance.

  • Brad Tucker is an astrophysicist and cosmologist at Mount Stromlo Observatory, and the National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU
What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
First image of our galaxy's black hole
Although everything in the galaxy spins around it, it was notoriously hard to photograph — here's why
Astronomers capture first image of supermassive black hole at our galaxy's center
At the center of the Milky Way galaxy is a massive, mysterious presence exerting a powerful influence on the stars…
Supermassive black hole in our galaxy captured for first time in astonishing picture
The image is the first direct visual evidence of the "giant lurking at the centre of our galaxy".
Say hello to Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy
On May 12, 2022, astronomers on the Event Horizon Telescope team released an image of a black hole called Sagittarius…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
The Welsh astronomer who helped reveal first image of supermassive black hole at heart of galaxy
The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very centre of our Galaxy
Scientists Capture First-Ever Image Of ‘Unseeable’ Black Hole
Milky Way phenomenon said to be 4 million times bigger than the sun.
Get all your news in one place