We might see the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole for the first time Today May 12 at 9 a.m. Eastern Time (14:00 UTC). Here’s how you can follow along.
We may be seeing the unseeable today when the supermassive black hole will be viewed live. Decades of calculations and data have shown that there is a supermassive black hole, that is about 4 million times more massive than our sun, lurking at the heart of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. But humans have never seen this black hole but this may be about to change later today at 14:00 UTC.
Today the Event Horizon Telescope project will be set to unveil what it terms a “groundbreaking results” from its study of the Milky Way even though details are scanty about what will be revealed by the telescope exactly, from the information we have there is a strong possibility that astronomers have been able to take a picture of the supermassive black hole at the center our galaxy the Milky Way for the first time. Which is what the EHT was designed to do.
The results from this observatory will be presented today during a press conference by 6 a.m. Pacific Time/ 9 a.m. Eastern Time/ 2pm. UTC, and you can follow along. The event will be live-streamed on the US National Science Foundation website. The EHT collaboration unveiled the very first image of a different black hole, the supermassive beast at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, dubbed M87*, In April 2019.
The Event Horizon Telescope during the unveiling used eight radio telescopes from across the planet to generate the image of the black hole. Further work done by the collaborations has revealed the extreme magnetic fields associated with M87*, allowing scientists to further understand the environment around the black hole and what it entails.
But the EHT wasn’t studying just M87*. The suite of telescopes that make it up had also been focused on the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way known as Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*. The black hole is about 4.3 million times more massive than the sun and sits just 25,000 light-years from Earth — close, in cosmic terms. For comparison, M87* is about 6 billion times more massive and about 50 million light-years from Earth.
Imaging Sgr A* is way harder than M87* as confirmed by scientists in the EHT project because there are a lot more things such as the cosmic gas and dust, that interfere with radio telescopes when looking toward the heart of the milky way our home galaxy. This is why getting the image of the M87* was less troubling than the She A.
Watching The Event Live
If you’re unable to tune in live, the event will be available online via the Perimeter Institute’s YouTube channel. Questions can be asked during the Livestream by tweeting them with #PerimeterLive. Questions from previous live streams can be found on the Perimeter Institute’s YouTube channel or its Facebook page.
While waiting for the press release from the Event Horizon Telescope later today you should prepare your questions and concerns to the observatory on the potential presentation we will see from their press release.