Photographs of the real Galactic Core
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 5/12/22 6:03 a.m.

Just today, I came across stories about the real Galactic Core, Sagittarius A*. Other than tweets about it and Tomb Raider themed memes regarding the picture of what the main subject here is, the first actual article I looked at on the matter revealed the thing the aforementioned were talking about: scientists have been working on actually observing it and we now have the first fruits of that labour:


Everything in our 13.6 billion-year-old galaxy orbits Sagittarius A*, including our solar system , which is located 26,000 light-years away.

Black holes are notoriously difficult to spot, usually only inferred by the effects they have on their environment. This is because not only do they not emit light, but black holes also trap photons behind a boundary called the event horizon, making studying them directly in optical light near impossible.

Observing Sagittarius A* from Earth is made even more difficult due to the fact that it is shrouded by a thick screen of intervening dust.

Fortunately, astronomers have developed other ways of gaining insights into Sagittarius A*. For instance, the mass of a central body and its radius can be determined by observing the gravitational influence that it has on the objects that orbit it.

To observe Sagittarius A*, astronomers monitored the star S2 , which orbits Sagittarius A* at a distance of 11 billion miles (18 billion km) and a speed of 17.1 million mph (11.4 kph) . The star also has a highly elliptical 16-year orbit.


On May 12, 2022, scientists unveiled our first view of Sagittarius A* in a striking image.

An image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, a behemoth dubbed Sagittarius A*, was revealed by the Event Horizon Telescope on May 12, 2022. (Image credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration)
The image was captured using observations of light — the light emitted by matter that's heated up as it hurtles toward the center of Sag A*. This technique gives scientists a view of essentially the shadow of the black hole.

Capturing an image of a black hole is no easy task and requires a global network of observatories that coordinates to act like a telescope the size of Earth — the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

Related: Here's How Scientists Turned the World Into a Telescope (to See a Black Hole)

There is still a great deal to learn about Sagittarius A* but the first image of the Milky Way’s central black hole could reveal further secrets held by the cosmic object that has shaped our galaxy.

Interesting reading. Here's hoping in the not too distant future (Next Sunday AD), we get plausible IRL coordinates for Lh'owon. ;)

That does make me wonder though: Is the solar system 97 light years from Sagittarius A* or inside the horizon, with the "gravitational centre of the milky way" being the core of the black hole as opposed to the hole itself? If it's the former, would 97 light years be a minimum safe distance? I know that planets can orbit black holes if they're far enough away without getting sucked in, contrary to popular culture. Would stars like the Lh'owon Solar System's sun be able to orbit a super massive one the same way?

I'm no astronomer so an expert's opinion on the matter is more than welcome.

Incidentally, the orange glow from Sagittarius A* in the photograph reminds me of the nebula in the background of Marathon 2's space skybox when on Boomer and the Hfarl.

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