What is happening with our galaxy?
Astronomers have long suspected a supermassive black hole 26,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius, behind the dust and gas clouds that cover the center of the Milky Way. In this darkness, the equivalent of millions of stars were sent out forever, leaving a ghostly gravitational field and spacetime violently twisting. Nobody knows where the door leads or what, if anything, on the other side.
Humanity is now preparing to take a more intimate look at this mess. Over the past decade, an international team of more than 300 astronomers has trained the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of radio observatories stretching across the globe, on the arc of an A* (pronounced A-star), a faint source of radio waves – a supposed black hole. – At the center of our galaxy. On Thursday at 9 a.m. ET, the team, led by Shepherd Doelman, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, will release its latest findings at six simultaneous press conferences in Washington and around the world.
The team is determined not to speak to the media. But in April 2019, the same group stunned the world with their production The first image of a black hole A supermassive torus of energy in the galaxy Messier 87, or M87, surrounds the void.
“We saw what we thought was invisible,” Doelman said at the time. This photograph is now kept in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
An uninformed bet is that the team has now managed to produce an image of Arch A*, our doom cake. If Dr. Shepherd’s team sees the “invisible” again, the achievement will reveal much about how the galaxy operates and what unfolds in its dark recesses.
The results could be startling and informative, said Jana Levine, a gravity theorist at Barnard College at Columbia University, who was not part of the project. “I’m not bored yet of images of black holes,” she said.
“Devoted student. Bacon advocate. Beer scholar. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot. Typical coffee enthusiast.”