Zoom Into the Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way

Scientists just further confirmed what has long been believed: that there’s a supermassive black hole scientists named Sagittarius A* at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. This mind-blowing 1.5-minute video zooms in from a wide view of the night sky into the tiny little area where the latest telescopic observations were just made.

In a paper published on October 31st, 2018, scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) detailed how they used the GRAVITY interferometer and the four telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to create a virtual telescope that effectively has a diameter of 427 feet (130m).

Pointing this ultra-telescope straight at Sagittarius A*, scientists detected bright spots of gas traveling in orbits around Sagittarius A* at 30% the speed of light.

It’s “the first time material has been observed orbiting close to the point of no return, and the most detailed observations yet of material orbiting this close to a black hole,” ESO writes. “This video starts with a wide view of the Milky Way and then zooms into a visualization of data from simulations of orbital motions of gas swirling around at about 30% of the speed of light on a circular orbit around the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*.”

Scientists are creating larger and larger telescopes that will give us even more impressive images in the future. If you think this observation by the VLT was impressive, check out this graphic showing how its light-gathering ability compares to other current and future telescopes:

Illustration by Cmglee and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Too bad the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope was cancelled — that would have been quite the ultra-telephoto lens.