A Picture of the Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole

A Picture of the Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole

This is an image of the supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
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Image of Sgr A* from EHT collaboration
Event Horizon Telescope collaboration: https://ve42.co/EHT

Animations from The Relativistic Astrophysics group, Institute for Theoretical Physics, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt. Massive thanks to Prof. Luciano Rezzolla, Dr Christian Fromm and Dr Alejandro Cruz-Osorio.

A huge thanks to Prof. Peter Tuthill and Dr Manisha Caleb for feedback on earlier versions of this video and helping explain VLBI.

Great video by Thatcher Chamberlin about VLBI here – https://youtu.be/Y8rAHTvpJbk

Animations and simulations with English text:
L. R. Weih & L. Rezzolla (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Video of stars going around Sgr A* from European Southern Observatory
https://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso1825e/

Video zooming into the center of our galaxy from European Southern Observatory

Video of observation of M87 courtesy of:
C. M. Fromm, Y. Mizuno & L. Rezzolla (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Video of observation of SgrA* courtesy of
C. M. Fromm, Y. Mizuno & L. Rezzolla (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Z. Younsi (University College London)

Video of telescopes in the array 2017:
C. M. Fromm & L. Rezzolla (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Animations and simulations (no text):
L. R. Weih & L. Rezzolla (Goethe University Frankfurt)

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Special thanks to Patreon supporters: Inconcision, Kelly Snook, TTST, Ross McCawley, Balkrishna Heroor, Chris LaClair, Avi Yashchin, John H. Austin, Jr., OnlineBookClub.org, Dmitry Kuzmichev, Matthew Gonzalez, Eric Sexton, john kiehl, Anton Ragin, Diffbot, Micah Mangione, MJP, Gnare, Dave Kircher, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Dumky, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Josh Hibschman, Mac Malkawi, Michael Schneider, jim buckmaster, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Vincent, Stephen Wilcox, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Clayton Greenwell, Michael Krugman, Cy ‘kkm’ K’Nelson, Sam Lutfi, Ron Neal

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Written by Derek Muller
Animation by Ivy Tello, Mike Radjabov, Maria Raykova
Filmed by Petr Lebedev

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29 Responses

  1. Just Some Guy without a Mustache says:

    Absolutely jaw dropping how inconceivably huge these supermassive black holes are. I always love it when Veritasium delves into the topic of space.

    • w0ofers _ says:

      @Stunna girl actually I’ve seen a white hole before

    • George Spalding says:

      Actually, the Black Hole itself has NO dimensions but is a single POINT in Space. It’s 3D space of INFLUENCE is what is huge, the Event Horizon of course is measurable by the Schwarzschild equation.

    • Skinovthe Perineum says:

      @Paul Drewett – That’s what I was telling the original commenter. No such thing as infinitely small. Small ends at zero or, if you prefer, the Planck length.

    • Batman says:

      @Ben Hall They can become pretty huge as well. The size is starting to catch up to the mass when they grow larger. If two black holes merge, they basically add their radii together, which means that the event horizon volume increase exponentially. A black hole gets 8 times larger if the mass is doubled. Pretty trippy. But yes, they are still way more massive than big.

    • MemeAnt says:

      WHY IS HE HERE

  2. Vincent M Manias says:

    I remember staring at that updated, swirling “Polarized” black hole image that was released a few months after the famous, blurry one, and trying to wrap my mind around how polarized lenses only take in focused light beams which pointed directly at you, which means the angle information from the image was, by definition, perfectly straight, perfectly direct, and perfectly focused. And yet, that polarized image of a black hole shows deep, beautiful, pronounced swirls of light spiraling a void.
    With little knowledge of physics, I just kept staring at it until it finally clicked that the light wasn’t from the black hole, it was from the stars behind or around the black hole, and that their light WAS moving in a singular, focused direction – I WAS looking at a perfectly straight line – that’s just how severely time and space were bending along that “Straight” path. That was one of the first times I felt like I could finally see and visualize relativity and that fabric of Spacetime I’ve heard so much about.

    • Dalazo says:

      Solid comment. Think a lot of people probably feel this way. I know nothing of physics so trying to find some form of line of understanding is sometimes hard when it comes to stuff like this.

  3. Dominic LoBue says:

    As technically impressive as these renderings are, the clip showing those stars zooming around apparently nothing is what blows my mind. I feel like I could watch that for hours and still be fascinated…

    • MrCidVicious says:

      Just so you know, that is all just CGI created to represent what we believe it appears as.

    • パイシーズ says:

      You can literally see the advancement in technology as the video gets clearer as it plays.

    • Matthew Nelson says:

      Agreed! That short animation covers the period of many years, so it would take lifetimes to get an hours-long clip.

    • yokohamaborn says:

      Agreed, that was shocking to see. I can’t believe we have the technology to image something that far away and through so much intervening matter.

  4. Mystixor says:

    Reading “We photographed the Milky Way’s black hole for the first time” seems like a big deal, but really it has little immediate meaning. You showing how it’s done, what it takes, and what it means is just great. Also, it’s awesome that you prepared this prior to the press release so it’s still relevant when people find your video. Thanks!

  5. modeswitching says:

    The first time I saw that animation of the stars whirring around Sag A* in their wibbly little relativistic orbits, my jaw dropped. The idea that the stars that seem so fixed, are capable of moving around fast enough for us to see it in the course of a human lifetime is just amazing.

    • Matthew Nelson says:

      It really gives me a better sense of how massive the black hole is, as if its permanently nailed in that spot in space, not visibly shaken by the orbiting stars (even though it’s moving through space at 25 miles per second, or so.)

  6. Advesh Darvekar says:

    This is hands down the best explanation of a black hole I’ve ever heard.

    • TheYafaShow says:

      The essential and professional man endeavors to set sail across the waters to the enchanted land of Europe. He has in historic past, leisured in the exotic terrain, yet now, he has chartered a ferry for the long term, the quixotic adventurer sails to the topography of that of Europe to never return.
      Only replete with his knowledge procured over many a years, and bequeathed with the enlightenment one has when cobblestone displays it’s beauty to that of a city with history equal to his own. We are creative people and shall our intrinsic value give extrinsic measurements of pecuniary worth.
      Shall the winds of history flow always in our favour.

    • Shepherd, lost says:

      @streuthmonkey1 Okay buddy. The picture might be CG, but it’s a visual representation of real collected data. That’s quite enough for me. So what exactly would it take for you to consider it a proof?

    • Wayne Darron Walls says:

      @ember nurse….nurse….NURSE…!!! HE’S ESCAPED AGAIN!!!!

    • streuthmonkey1 says:

      @Shepherd, lost How is a computer generated image of what appears to be a plasma torus proof of the existence of black holes existing?
      I guess you think that pictures of Santa on cards are proof he exists too!

      Why do you people always have to resort to ad hominem? All it proves is that you have no argument.

    • Shepherd, lost says:

      @streuthmonkey1 Isn’t the picture in fact a proof of their existence? I mean black holes might not be how/what we think they are, but there’s clearly something there, how would you make a real picture of something that doesn’t exist? Its very brave of you to believe in a round Earth by the way, bravo, really stepping out of your comfort zone there. Lmao.

  7. Galaxie Kosmos says:

    It’s crazy to thinks something so big in our own galaxy seems so small from our planet’s perspective. We are privileged to live in a time where we can witness this beauty of the universe in the palm of our hand.

    • Greg Ruopp says:

      The technology involved with figuring this stuff out is so cool to me, like how many generations of scientists it takes to get to where we are now…. And then there is my mom “researching” on Facebook thinking she knows better! Haha

    • Christopher B Appel says:

      truth

  8. Kevin Godfrey says:

    I’m not even gonna pretend otherwise, the arts and crafts really helped me get a true grasp of what you were describing. Perfectly demonstrated

  9. Chocolate Caramel says:

    This was such a well-explained video that even someone with limited knowledge of the subject (like me) could learn it easily. Very impressive and thank you for your effort!

  10. Shantanu Paul says:

    Just a few years ago, when I was in school, we learnt that the centre of our galaxy ‘might’ contain a black hole and now we have an image of it. The speed of scientific progress is just astonishing.

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