Telescopes Support Studying Milky Way’s Black Hole

Multiple telescopes, including Chandra, observed the Milky Way’s giant black hole simultaneously with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). This combined effort gave insight into what is happening farther out than the field-of-view of the EHT.

The main panel of this graphic contains X-ray data from Chandra (blue) depicting hot gas that was blown away from massive stars near the black hole. Two images of infrared light at different wavelengths from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show stars (orange) and cool gas (purple). These images are seven light years across at the distance of Sgr A*. A pull-out shows the new EHT image, which is only about 1.8 x 10-5 light years across (0.000018 light years, or about 10 light minutes). (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; IR: NASA/HST/STScI. Inset: Radio (EHT Collaboration))

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As the Event Horizon Telescope collected data for its remarkable new image of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, a legion of other telescopes including three NASA X-ray observatories in space was also watching.

Astronomers are using these observations to learn more about how the black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy — known as Sagittarius A * (Sgr A* for short) — interacts with, and feeds off, its environment some 27,000 light years from Earth.

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