Since humans first landed on the moon several decades ago, science has evolved in ways that have allowed us to see our planet, solar system, galaxy, and universe in ways previously unheard of. Now, NASA’s new $10 billion telescope aims to reveal images of the super massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The phenomenon has intrigued and frustrated scientists endlessly.
More specifically, the space agency’s efforts center around capturing images of the area directly surrounding the super massive black hole. According to SciTechDaily, NASA’s James Webb Telescope has now become another contributor to the global effort intended to make our galaxy’s most mysterious phenom visible.
The latest efforts come after the Event Horizon Telescope captured images of the shadow of galaxy M87’s black hole. The shadow of the M87 black hole, however, was much more attainable in photographs. According to the outlet, the more distant black hole presented a “steady target.”
On the other hand, our galaxy’s super massive black hole, deemed Sagittarius A* presents mystifying flares. To put it simply, our galaxy’s own black hole lends scientists a much less steady “target.”
Further, the imaging process promises to be more challenging as the black hole’s unique flickering occurs on an hourly basis.
So, the technical purpose of the Webb Telescope? SciTechDaily states it will assist in capturing its own infrared images of region where the black hole is located. Theoretically, those images should then tell scientists when flares take place. The information would then contribute to more accurately timed viewing, enabling NASA to capture a glance of the Milky Way Galaxy’s most mysterious resident.
What Exactly Is a Black Hole?
Contrary to its title, black holes are more than just swirling pools of dark nothingness. We might equate a black hole to the presence of, well, absence. However, its actually the densest region of matter know to humans. Sara Markoff, an astronomer on the Webb Sagittarius* research team and current vice chairperson of EHT’s Science Council, shared her own thoughts regarding the fascinating phenomenons.
As we can all agree, the astronomer stated, “Black holes are just cool.”
She explained, “The reason that scientists and space agencies across the world put so much effort into studying black holes is because they are the most extreme environments in the known universe.”
And as we know, lots of Outsiders like to test their abilities to endure our planets most extreme environments. These range from the cold and daunting mountains of wintery Colorado to Death Valley’s unrelenting heat. However, in comparison with our galaxy’s black hole, these places quite literally resemble a walk in the park.
The density of black holes is absolutely fascinating. Their inner core has a gravitational force so strong, it warps the magnetic field around them, turning that field in on itself. As for the light scientists constantly see flickering near our galaxy‘s super massive black hole, it’s not actually the phenomenon itself throwing off these unique flashes. Any object or light sucked into the astronomical mystery becomes stretched and warped on what’s called the event horizon, from which NASA coined the EHT collaboration. From there, it gets trapped inside the black hole, and the light trapped within never escapes.