The National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency that funds research across science and technology, held a press conference on Thursday revealing a groundbreaking image of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*. Scientists were able to capture the image through the Event Horizon Telescope, an international network of astronomers employing telescopes across the globe that work in tandem to create a virtual Earth-sized telescope.
Black holes are dense places in space with gravity so extreme that not even light can escape the strong tug. The event horizon of a black hole, for which the telescope was named, is a boundary from which there is no return.
Located at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*, which is four million times more massive than the Sun and roughly 27,000 light-years away from Earth, is only the second black hole ever to be imaged.
Until this direct picture, scientists were unable to confirm that Sagittarius A* was, in fact, a black hole. However, the tell-tale sign of the bright ring surrounded by darkness confirmed it.