Black hole in Milky Way: how big is supermassive Sagittarius A at centre of galaxy - first picture explained

The supermassive black hole, which is four million times larger than our Sun, has been named Sagittarius A

Scientists have released the first glimpse of a monster black hole discovered in the Milky Way.

Spotted by an international team at Event Horizon Telescope (EHT Collaboration) the supermassive black hole has been named Sagittarius A.

Taking to Twitter to share their discovery, EHT Collaboration posted: “Meet the Black Hole at the Centre of our Galaxy! Astronomers have unveiled the 1st image of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.”

Here’s everything you need to know about what a black hole is - and how big supermassive Sagittarius A really is!

What is a black hole?

First glimpse of milk way monster black hole Sagittarius A (Pic: EHT Collaboration)
First glimpse of milk way monster black hole Sagittarius A (Pic: EHT Collaboration)
First glimpse of milk way monster black hole Sagittarius A (Pic: EHT Collaboration)

Often thought of as a piece of science fiction, black holes are real - and this picture proves it.

A black hole occurs in an area of space where matter has collapsed into itself.

The pull of gravity is so strong that not even light can get through.

It’s proposed that black holes form after stars die, but the true cause is still unknown.

They are invisible and can only be seen in space using telescopes with tools that recognise them.

Black holes are discovered by studying how they interact in space, as they act differently to other stars due to the force of gravity around them.

Who released the first picture of Sagittarius A?

The black hole was photographed by a group of international scientists called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration.

The group has released images of black holes previously.

In 2019, they shared another black hole - called Messier 87 - that was located in another galaxy and measured a whopping 6.5 billion times bigger than the mass of our Sun.

This is the first time they have discovered and photographed a black hole in our galaxy.

The image shows the dark, central region where the hole itself is based and is encircled by the light coming from the strong gravitational forces.

Speaking to BBC News, Dutch member of EHT, Professor Heino Falcke said of the discovery: “This new image is special because it’s our supermassive black hole.”

He added: “This is in ‘our backyard’, and if you want to understand black holes and how they work, this is the one that will tell you because we see it in intricate detail.”

How big is Sagittarius A?

The black hole, which has been named Sagittarius A, has been dubbed a “monster” and described as supermassive.

Its size is estimated to be a jaw-dropping four million times bigger than our Sun.

To put that into perspective, the ring of the black hole is estimated to be the size of Mercury’s orbit around our sun, which equates to 40 million miles.

How far away is the milky way black hole from earth?

There’s no need to panic, as this monster black hole is nowhere near earth.

The black hole is located over 26,000 light-years away, so there is no threat of it impacting us.

However, this is the first time that a black hole has been photographed in our galaxy.