The amazing dance of stars captured in the center of the Milky Way

What if the stars were dancing ? This is what photos very large telescope Captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO’s VLTI) Unprecedented accuracy, the motion of stars revolving around the galaxy’s central black hole. She is wonderful.

“Incredible spatial accuracy”

The Gravity collaborative team published its findings with two studies published in astronomy & Astrophysics . based on photos very large telescope At ESO, astronomers used aperture synthesis technology, which allows observations from different instruments to be superimposed into one. The result was so amazing that it stunned even the most knowledgeable sky-watcher.

“VLTI gives us this incredible spatial resolution, and with the new images, we’re reaching a depth we’ve never had before,” says the researcher.

“We are amazed at the amount of detail, as well as the movement and number of stars it reveals around the black holeEnthusiastic Julia Stadler, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (Germany), head of imaging operations at the Gravity Collaboration, in a press release from ESO. Judge for yourself with this video, which literally takes us to the center of the galaxy.

Get to know the Milky Way’s central black hole better

After a “global” view of the Milky Way, the video plunges us into its center, as a swarm of stars orbits around the most mysterious object in the universe: a supermassive black hole, whose mass is 4.3 million times greater than that of the Sun. Thus, zooming in/out allows seeing the most accurate images available to date, and promises to teach us more about the workings of black holes, beyond general relativity.

“The best way to answer these questions is to follow stars in close orbits to the supermassive black hole,” said Reinhard Genzel. “Here we prove that we can do it with unparalleled precision.”

We want to learn more about the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A. What is its mass exactly? Does he turn around? Are the stars around it behaving exactly as we would expect from Einstein’s general theory of relativity? Explains the director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), Reinhard Genzel. In 2020, the astrophysicist was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research with his team on the sign of Sagittarius. One thing is for sure, these tools will help answer it. In the meantime, one last one for the road:

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