The team is focusing on making movies of the two black holes that were photographed, and finding other distant black holes large enough to study.

Space 12 May 2022

By Leah Crane.

This image shows the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) looking up at the Milky Way as well as the location of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at our galactic centre. Highlighted in the box is the image of Sagittarius A* taken by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration. Located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, ALMA is the most sensitive of all the observatories in the EHT array, and ESO is a co-owner of ALMA on behalf of its European Member States.

The black hole in the center of the picture is Sagittarius A*, with the ALMA in the background.

Is that the name of the game? The EHT Collaboration is led by Francisco Salgado.

The first close-up picture of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way was revealed by the EHT on 12 May. It is time for the collaboration to move on to new scientific endeavors now that it has taken images of the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy. What is next?

The researchers will have to look at the data that they have already collected. There are two more observation periods with extra telescopes added to the collaboration's original eight-telescope network.

Data does exist. We have taken data with one additional telescope, but we are working very hard to get that to you as soon as possible, but I can't make any promises about when. She said it will probably take years before the results of that analysis are released.

The data is expected to clarify the structure of the material around Sgr A*, particularly the three bright knots of light shown in the new image.

Read more: First picture of our galaxy’s supermassive black hole revealed

It should give us a clue at some point, because the images are consistent with Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.

The goal of the EHT collaboration is to make videos of Sgr A* and M87 as the material around them changes over time. She said that there isn't enough data to make movies of the black holes.

The new telescopes added to the array should help with that. The images that have been released so far have had colour added to indicate brightness, because these will take data in multiple wavelengths, which will increase the resolution of the images.

The two black holes that we know of are the only ones that can be imaged with high enough resolution to see their silhouettes against the light of the hot plasma around them. The researchers are trying to identify other black holes that could be observed and compared to the two we have seen so far. There should be other black holes that are large enough to be resolved by the EHT, but researchers haven't found them yet.

Every Friday, sign up for our free newsletter for a voyage across the galaxy and beyond.

There are more on these topics.

  • astronomy
  • galaxies
  • black holes