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Giant black hole in the Milky Way

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Published: Today 14.42

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The promise was “breakthrough news” about our galaxy, the Milky Way.

It turned out to be an image of the giant black hole Sagittarius A.

– It’s too far away to affect you and me, says astronomer Michael Lindqvist of the risks to the earth.

full screen The gigantic black hole that the researchers presented at the press conference. Photo: AP

Expectations in space circles were huge ahead of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration press conference.

The hope was to see an image of a supermassive black hole in the middle of the Milky Way.

So it was.

To great applause, the image was presented on a glowing ring around a bottomless darkness. The image is an image of the black hole Sagittarius A – with a mass four million times heavier than the sun. What can be seen in the image is not the black hole itself – which is huge darkness – but the glowing gases around it.

Scientists have long seen stars revolve around something huge and invisible. The hypothesis: a black hole. According to the researchers, the new image is direct evidence that this is the case.

Swedish researchers involved in the project

Astronomer Michael Lindqvist is one of three Swedish Chalmers researchers who participated in the project. He sees the research behind the new image as an important step forward, which gives more flavor to the future.

– You can imagine you can even make movies if you have enough telescopes, says Lindqvist.

A gigantic black hole in the middle of the galaxy – does this mean any danger to us here on earth?

– It’s too far away to affect you and me.

I guess a black hole is a great chasm where things get sucked up and disappear.

– What is sucked into the black hole also disappears into the black hole.

But you have to get very close to get swallowed, explains Michael Lindqvist.

full screenMichael Lindqvist, Chalmers astronomer. Photo: Magnus Thomasson

I work on horseback with images in the dark

Event Horizon Telescope developed the image using eight synchronized telescopes around the world. A so-called horse work. The final image is based on telescopic images from 2017. About 300 researchers worked on the processing and analysis of all data.

Among other things, a supercomputer was used in Chalmers, says Michael Lindqvist.

This is the second time in the history of humanity that scientists have managed to produce the image of a black hole. The first time was in 2019. So the astronomers were able to show an image of a black hole in the galaxy Messier 87, located 55 million light years away in the constellation Virgo.

Sagittarius A is much closer to Earth. Just 27,000 light years away.