WASHINGTON (AP) — The world got a look Thursday at the first wild but fuzzy image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, with astronomers calling it 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. Light gets chaotically bent and twisted around by gravity as it gets sucked into the abyss along with superheated 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 had found the black hole in the center of our galaxy too jumpy to get a good picture.
The University of Arizona’s Feryal Ozel called the black hole “the gentle giant in the center of our galaxy” while announcing the breakthrough. Black holes gobble up galactic material but Ozel said this one is “eating very little.”