Astronomers clarified the mass of the black hole in the center of the Milky Way

A team of astrophysicists from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics managed to clarify the mass of the black hole Sagittarius A* located in the center of the Milky Way. It exceeds the mass of the Sun by more than four million times.

The first ever image of Sagittarius A*, a black hole located in the center of our Milky Way. Source: EHT Collaboration

Supermassive black holes lurk in the centers of most of the galaxies we know. Our Milky Way is no exception to this rule. Last year, astronomers could finally prove that the compact radio source Sagittarius A*, located in its center, is also a black hole. They managed to do this by capturing the bright ring-shaped structure surrounding it with the help of radio telescopes. It consists of gas heated to high temperatures.

From time to time, flares occur in this gas, which can be observed in the near infrared range. The researchers decided to take advantage of this circumstance to clarify the size and mass of the black hole. They used data on the flares observed in 2018, 2021 and 2022, collected using the GRAVITY receiver mounted on a Very Large Telescope.

Analysis of GRAVITY data shows that the mass of Sagittarius A* exceeds the mass of the Sun by 4,297 million times. This corresponds to the measurement results obtained using alternative methods. The researchers also managed to clarify the size of the black hole. All its mass is concentrated in a volume of space with a radius less than the radius of Venus’ orbit.

According to

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