Beyond the Event Horizon: New Image Reveals Magnetic Forces at Milky Way’s Core

Beyond the Event Horizon: New Image Reveals Magnetic Forces at Milky Way's Core

Beyond the Event Horizon: New Image Reveals Magnetic Forces at Milky Way’s Core

A recent image from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, including researchers from the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA), has revealed organized magnetic fields spiraling from the edge of the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).



This new view, seen in polarized light for the first time, sheds light on the monster residing at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. The magnetic field structure observed is remarkably similar to that of the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy, suggesting a commonality among black holes. This similarity also hints at a potential hidden jet in Sgr A*.

Published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the findings expand on the first image of Sgr A* unveiled in 2022, which showed remarkable similarities with M87*’s black hole.

Sara Issaoun, co-lead of the project and CfA NASA Hubble Fellowship Program Einstein Fellow, commented on the discovery, noting the significance of strong and organized magnetic fields in understanding black hole interactions.

Previous studies of M87* revealed that its magnetic fields allowed for the launch of powerful jets. Building on this, the new images suggest the same might be true for Sgr A*.

Angelo Ricarte, project co-lead and Harvard Black Hole Initiative Fellow, highlighted the importance of polarized light in understanding black hole astrophysics.

Paul Tiede, CfA postdoctoral fellow, emphasized the challenge of imaging Sgr A* due to its dynamic nature, but expressed excitement over the success in creating a polarized image.

Comparing both black holes in polarized light provides new insights into their similarities and differences. Michi Bauböck, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, noted the unexpected similarity in magnetic field structures despite differences in size and feeding rates between M87* and Sgr A*.

Future observations by the EHT, scheduled for April 2024, are anticipated to further improve understanding, with planned expansions aiming to enhance imaging capabilities significantly. The next-generation EHT (ngEHT) project, led by CfA, will upgrade the array to enable real-time movies of supermassive black holes on event horizon scales.

Additionally, the Black Hole Explorer (BHEX) mission concept aims to extend the EHT into space, providing the sharpest images in astronomical history. These advancements promise to reveal more about the properties and behaviors of black holes, shedding light on their growth and interaction with galaxies.

Source: Beyond the Event Horizon: New Image Reveals Magnetic Forces at Milky Way’s Core

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