ESO’s exquisitely sensitive GRAVITY instrument has added further evidence to the long-standing assumption that a supermassive black hole lurks in the centre of the Milky Way. New observations show clumps of gas swirling around at about 30% of the speed of light on a circular orbit just outside a four million solar mass black hole — the first time material has been observed orbiting close to the point of no return, and the most detailed observations yet of material orbiting this close to a black hole.
This visualization uses data from simulations of orbital motions of gas swirling around at about 30% of the speed of light on a circular orbit around the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*.
This simulation shows the orbits of a tight group of stars close to the supermassive blackhole at the heart of the Milky Way. During 2018 one of these stars, S2, passed very close to the black hole and was the subject of intense scrutiny with ESO telescope. Its behaviour matched the predictions of Einsteins’s general relativity and was inconsistent with simpler Newtonian gravity.