Take a trip through time and space, from Earth to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. A supermassive black hole, a cosmic giant, awaits you in the galactic core. You will travel faster than light out of the solar system and past the billions of stars that make up the Milky Way galaxy. From here, you can observe the cosmic chaos that drives the universe.
From Earth to the Center of the Milky Way Galaxy
Milky Way appears from Earth as a band because of its disk-shaped structure. Galileo Galilei first reconstructed the band of light into individual stars using his telescope in 1610.
Until the early 1920s, many astronomers believed that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the universe. Then, Edwin Hubble proved that the Milky Way is only one in many other galaxies.
Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy with a diameter estimated to be 100,000 to 200,000 light-years. Recent simulations indicate that some visible stars may extend up to a diameter of almost 2 million light-years in a dark matter area.
Imagine Seeing the Milky Way’s Center Like Never Before
This is where our Galaxy rotates during its orbit. It is located close to the solar system in the direction of Sagittarius, 24,000 light-years away. Still, optical light is inaccessible due to interstellar dust grains along its lines of sight.
However, it can be observed at wavelengths that are not affected by dust, including infrared, radio, and X-ray wavelengths.
A complex radio source has been detected near the Galactic center. Sagittarius A (SgrA*), which is a radio and X-ray source, has long been thought to be the location of a supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy.
Recent infrared observations have given this idea strength. This enabled us to plot the orbits of stars within the Galactic center’s light hours. These stars have very tight and fast Keplerian orbits around an object of about 3 million solar masses located at SgrA*.
The compact radio source Sagittarius A* is located in the center of the Milky Way and is part of the radio source Sagittarius A. It also emits in the infrared and X-ray range and other frequency bands. It is a high-density object – a supermassive black hole surrounded by a hot, radio-emitting gas cloud about 1.8 km in diameter.