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The European Southern Observatory will release the first-ever glimpse of Sagittarius A, a collapsed star in the center of our Milk Way galaxy.
USA TODAY

Story Highlights

  • There’s a “supermassive” black hole at the center of our galaxy.
  • We’ve known about black holes since the early 1970s.
  • Spacetime around a black hole is “weird.”

They’ve captured our imaginations for decades, but we’ve never actually photographed a black hole before – until now.

Next Wednesday, at several press briefings around the world, scientists will apparently unveil humanity’s first-ever photo of a black hole, the European Space Agency said in a statement. Specifically, the photo will be of “Sagittarius A,” the supermassive black hole that’s at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

But aren’t black holes, well, black, and thus invisible, so none of our telescopes can “see” them? Yes – therefore the image we’re likely to see will be of the “event horizon,” the edge of the black hole where light can’t escape. 

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Even that will be challenging, however, as the black hole at the center of our galaxy is “shrouded in a thick cloud of dust and gas,” according to Science Alert. Even more confounding is that spacetime around a black hole is “weird.”

A simulated image shows the turbulent plasma in the extreme environment around a supermassive black hole. (Photo: University of Arizona.)

(Black holes are actually collapsed stars, with gravity so strong that even light cannot escape their grasp.) So the photo may show a dark blob surrounded by a ring of bright light, according to Yahoo. 

Science News said that the black hole research was done using the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of eight radio observatories around the world.

Whatever the announcement is next week, “we’ll almost certainly be seeing something no human has ever seen before,” Popular Mechanics reported.

Press briefings will be held simultaneously in the U.S, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo. 

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