Scientists discovered that there is a black hole at the heart of our galaxy and they are still investigating it. With the help of the ALMA telescope combined with a network of radio telescopes, it was discovered that the region is smaller than it was believed originally. The findings of the paper can be found in The Astrophysical Journal.
It was impossible for astronomers to get a clear image of the Sagittarius A* black hole because of a hot gas cloud. However, by including ALMA in a global telescope network, scientists managed to estimate the size of the hole. The discovery couldn’t have been possible without the help of ALMA. “Sagittarius A* is located in the southern sky, thus the participation of ALMA is important not only because of its sensitivity, but also because of its location in the southern hemisphere,” explained Ciriaco Goddi, from the European ALMA Regional Center node in the Netherlands
“This may indicate that the radio emission is produced in a disk of infalling gas rather than by a radio jet. However, that would make Sagittarius A* an exception compared to other radio-emitting black holes. The alternative could be that the radio jet is pointing almost at us,” explained Nijmegen Ph.D. student Sara Issaoun, the leader of the paper.
The black hole at the center of our galaxy
It is something common for galaxies to have a black hole in the center. Our black hole, Sagittarius A* weighs around 4 million solar masses. “The first observations of Sagittarius A* at 86 GHz date from 26 years ago, with only a handful of telescopes. Over the years, the quality of the data has improved steadily as more telescopes joined,” said J. Anton Zensus, director of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.
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