Scientists are about to attempt to peer deep in to the dark hart of Sagittarius A at the center of the Milky Way.
Scientists are about to attempt to do something at a black hole that has never been done before: they’re going to try to image the event horizon of the one at the center of the Milky Way using a global network of radio telescopes for more than a week. The “Event Horizon Telescope” will link observatories around the hole to observe “Sagittarius A” until April 14.
While we have never glimpsed Sagittarius A directly, scientists can see the effect it has on the stars around it. This will be a huge test for the theory of gravity pioneered by Albert Einstein, and could help us totally ramp up our understanding of basic physics and the universe itself.
Sagittarius A is believed to be 26,000 light years from Earth and about 20 million kilometers wide. The telescope would link many radio receivers and capture an event horizon for the first time. The event horizon refers to the boundary around the black hole past which nothing can escape.
“Realizing this goal would open a new window on the study of general relativity in the strong field regime, accretion and outflow processes at the edge of a black hole, the existence of an event horizon, and fundamental black hole physics,” states the Event Horizon Telescope website. “Steady long-term progress on improving the capability of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) at short wavelengths has now made it extremely likely that this goal will be achieved within the next decade.
“The most compelling evidence for this is the recent observation by 1.3 mm VLBI of Schwarzschild radius scale structure in Sgr A*, the compact source of radio, submillimeter, near infrared and X-rays at the center of the Milky Way. Sgr A* is thought to mark the position of a ~4 million solar mass black hole, and because of its proximity and estimated mass presents the largest apparent event horizon size of any black hole candidate in the Universe.”