Sagittarius A* supermassive black hole: astronomers schedule ‘historic announcement’ for 12 May
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project is expected to release the first images of the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Scientists and astronomers have marked 12 May in their diaries after the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project said a “big announcement” would be made. The EHT consists of a global array of telescopes that form a virtual Earth-sized telescope with the combined power to see one of the Holy Grails of astronomy, the event horizon of a supermassive black hole.
“Simultaneous press conferences will announce ground-breaking results from the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, those will be synchronised at 13:00 Universal Time on May 12th, 2022,” the EHT website stated.
In search of Sagittarius A*
Sagittarius A* is a huge supermassive black hole at the Galactic Centre of the Milky Way, with a mass equivalent to that of four million suns. The EHT project has been attempting to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole, which could lead to advances in the study of general relativity and prove the existence of event horizons. Thursday’s press conferences are expected to make an announcement about such a find.
Ahead of the global press conference, everything points to the EHT having achieved its goal, which would be an historical breakthrough in the field. Scientists believe supermassive black holes such as Sagittarius A*, which have undergone gravitational collapse, form a kind of galactic barrier that, once crossed, nothing including light can subsequently escape from.
In 2019 the EHT captured an image of the outline (the event horizon) of the giant black hole that resides at the centre of the supergiant Messier 87 Galaxy, 55 million light years away from Earth. Surrounding the hole is an orange ring of material captured by the vast black hole, which before falling spins very rapidly around it and begins to glow brightly.
At that time, it was not possible to see Sagittarius A* because it is surrounded by a dense cloud of dust and gas that makes any observation difficult. On 12 May, it is expected the EHT will release the first-ever images of the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy with its brilliant accretion disc spinning around it.