Researchers from the European Space Agency (ESA) presented photographs of the center of the Milky Way. On them, you can make out in detail the stars, their location and even movement.
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) interferometer has captured the deepest and clearest images of the region around a supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way. The new images allow you to see this area 20 times better than before. By tracking the orbits of stars in the center of the Milky Way, the team made the most accurate measurement of the black hole’s mass.
To find even more stars, the researchers developed a new analysis method that allowed them to capture the deepest and clearest images of the galactic center.
“We want to know more about the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. How massive is it? Does it spin? Are the stars around it behaving exactly as we would expect, according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity? The best way to answer these questions is to trace stars in orbits around a supermassive black hole. We have shown that we can do this with great precision, ”said Reinhard Hansel, director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching.
In their most recent observations from March to July 2021, the team focused on making accurate measurements of stars approaching the black hole. These include the star S29, which approached the black hole in late May 2021. She passed her at a distance of only 13 billion km, which is about 90 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth, at a speed of 8740 km / s. No other star has passed this close to the black hole or moved around it at such speed.
The measurements and final images were only possible thanks to GRAVITY, a unique tool developed by researchers for the VLT. GRAVITY combines light from all four VLT telescopes using a technique called interferometry. Scientists noted that this is a complex technique, but it gives 20 times sharper images.