Taiwan-backed project reveals first image of black hole in Milky Way

05/12/2022 11:19 PM
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Image courtesy of Academia Sinica
Image courtesy of Academia Sinica

Taipei, May 12 (CNA) An international astronomical project that includes Taiwan's Academia Sinica on Thursday released the first-ever image documenting the existence of a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, comprising 13 research units from around the world, captured the image of Sagittarius A * (SgrA*), a black hole at the center of our galaxy about 27,000 light years away.

Academia Sinica President James Liao (廖俊智) said the black hole documented by scientists on this occasion was much smaller than the supermassive M87* black hole imaged by the EHT team in 2019, making its image technically much more difficult to capture.

While M87* is 55 million light years from earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times greater than the sun, SgrA* is about 27,000 light years from earth with a mass of about 4 million times that of the sun.

At a press conference, Liao said that the image offered direct proof of earlier scientific work that provided evidence of a black hole at the center of our galaxy, which received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2020.

"With the Academia Sinica as one of the 13 members of the EHT, we have again shown Taiwan's continued role in the world's most important scientific discoveries," he said.

The EHT project, established in 2017, is a global network of radio telescopes -- including the Greenland Telescope, the Submillimeter Array (SMA) in Hawaii, and the ALMA telescope in Chile -- which function together as one large telescope.

Academia Sinica scientists assist in the operation of the project's telescopes, as well as in image processing and the development of computer simulations.

According to NASA, a black hole is a place where matter has been packed into a tiny space, creating a gravitational field so strong that not even light can escape it.

(By Wu Hsin-yun, Yu Hsiao-han and Matthew Mazzetta)

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