New Image Exposes Intense Magnetic Field of the Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole

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A new image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy shows the magnetic field surrounding the object in polarized light. This image shows how the gas and superheated material in the vicinity of the black hole rotates around it. But aside from that, it’s a great way to visualize the awesome physics going on in the center of our galaxy.

The Milky Way’s black hole is called Sagittarius A*. It is about four million times the size of the Sun and was the first Image courtesy of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration in 2022. Agreement drew his first black hole three years earlier, the massive behemoth at the heart of the M87 galaxy (it’s massive at 6.5-billion-solar-mass).

Notably, not even light can escape the core of a black hole, so these images actually show the shadows of black holes; that is, the regions of space where black holes reside. But the space around a black hole is a different story. These areas emit a wide range of light, from radio waves to X-rays. This light is caused by the heating of matter and gas that surrounds black holes and forms accretion disks, which causes the light to vary.

Some of this light is polarized—its waves spin in a certain way that reveals parts of our environment that our naked eyes can’t see. In two papers published today in Astrophysical Journal Lettersscientists associated with the EHT revealed an image of Sagittarius A * that shows the magnetic field around the black hole, as it reveals polarized light from its accretion disc.

The the first paper includes a picture and a picture of what the team sees and the data, while second paper they release the ring structure and conceptual models that explain what the team sees.

“Because Sgr A* moves around when we’re trying to image it, it was difficult to make the image,” said Geoffrey Bower, an astronomer at Taipei’s Academia Sinica and a member of the EHT Collaboration, at the European Southern Observatory. to release. “We were relieved that polarized imaging was possible. Some samples were very distorted and difficult to produce a polarized image, but the environment was not too harsh.

M87 (the black hole at the center of the galaxy of the same name) was was re-examined in 2021while two papers (reprinted in Astrophysical Journal Letters) described the shape of a jet ejected by a black hole. The researchers also revealed an image of M87 in bright light, showing magnetic lines surrounding the supermassive object.

“With the model of two black holes – with very different galaxies and very different galaxies – it is important to know what they agree and disagree about,” said Mariafelicia De Laurentis, astronomer at the University of Naples Federico II and member of the EHT collaboration , on that release. “Since all of this points to a strong magnetic field, it shows that this may be a global phenomenon and perhaps the most important of these types of systems. One of the similarities between the two black holes may be a jet, but although we have imaged a known one in M87*, we have yet to find one in Sgr A*.

Over the next decade, the EHT Alliance—which uses eight telescopes around the world to function as one large radio telescope—hopes to add more telescopes to its network and observe new satellites. The magnification of the telescope may reveal any jets from Sagittarius A* that may not yet be visible.

Little is known about how black holes are born and grow, and the EHT is providing the first direct look at this mysterious and dangerous phenomenon. More detailed analysis comparing holes like Sagittarius A* and M87 may clarify which are the smaller (yet more massive) holes, and which are just supermassive.

More information: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Holes

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