Not for the first time, we've been reminded what a clever guy the scientist Albert Einstein was, as Science Editor Deborah Cohen reports
There is a humungous black hole that resides in the centre of our galaxy, something that has been pictured for the very first time.
Dubbed Sagittarius A*, astronomers have revealed the black hole is four million times the mass of our own sun.
Now, for the first time, the world has been able to see this monster, albeit in wild but fuzzy images.
Experts believe that nearly all galaxies, including our own, have these giant black holes at their centre.
The black holes prevent light and matter from escaping, making it extremely hard to get images of them.
Light gets chaotically bent and twisted around by gravity as it gets sucked into the abyss along with superheated gas and dust.
The colourised image unveiled on Thursday is from the international consortium behind the Event Horizon Telescope, a collection of eight synchronised radio telescopes around the world.
Previous efforts had found the black hole in the centre of our galaxy too jumpy to get a good picture.
The University of Arizona’s Feryal Ozel called the black hole “the gentle giant in the centre of our galaxy” while announcing the new image.
This is not the first black hole image.
The same group released the first one in 2019 and it was from a galaxy 53 million light-years away.
The Milky Way black hole is much closer, about 27,000 light-years away. A light year is 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion kilometers).
The project cost nearly £49 million with £23 million coming from the US National Science Foundation.
Scientists have said they are particularly excited to have images of two different black holes, as this offers the opportunity to compare and contrast.
The new data is hoped to help test theories and models of how gas behaves around supermassive black holes.
The process is not yet fully understood but is thought to play a key role in shaping the formation and evolution of galaxies.
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