Astronomers are preparing to reveal the first images of our galaxy’s supermassive black hole (or, more accurately, the area immediately around it, since the hole pulls in all light and matter).
The image, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope, will show the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and will be shown in a press conference beginning at 9am ET (2pm BST) on April 10. When the conference begins, you will be able to watch the live stream below.
The black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A, is 26,000 light years away from Earth and shrouded in dust and gas. Until now, our knowledge of it has been based on inferences rather than direct observation.
Despite its name, the Event Horizon Telescope is actually a collection of eight radio telescopes located around the world, precisely co-ordinated using highly accurate atomic clocks. Together, they effectively creating a global observatory.with the power to let us observe Sagittarius A for the first time.
This will be a groundbreaking moment for the scientific community, testing predictions based on the Theory of General Relativity.
Black holes, by their nature, are impossible to see with the naked eye since they are so dense that no light can escape them. Instead, any images that will be released will be the silhouette of a black hole, an outline against all of the super bright, hot gas that is thought to surround these weird celestial objects. It will be as close as we can get to a picture of a black hole’s infamous “event horizon,” the boundary of a black hole where the gravitational pull is so great that there is no escape.
Matter pulled in by the black hole is believed to settle in a disc-like formation (the accretion disc), moving faster and becoming hotter as it draws closer to the event horizon, creating light. This light is expected to bend around the event horizon to create a lopsided, glowing ring, which researchers are hoping to see for the first time.