Earth Is 2000 Light-Years Closer to Milky Way's Black Hole

29 Novembre, 2020, 22:33 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Earth is 2,000 light-years closer to supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*

The observatory explained that the changes do not mean that the Earth is moving towards a black hole. To get around this, the project used astrometry, the accurate measurement of the position and motion of objects, to understand the overall structure of the Milky Way and Earth's place in it. Solid black lines indicate the position of the galaxy's curved arms. The colors indicate groups of objects belonging to the same arm.

"Because Earth is located inside the Milky Way, we can't step back and see what our Galaxy looks like from the outside", said Dr. Tomoya Hirota, an astronomer from the Mizusawa VLBI Observatory at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Department of Astronomical Sciences at SOKENDAI, and his colleagues from the VERA Collaboration.

By pinpointing the location and velocity of around 99 specific points in our galaxy, VERA has concluded the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A, at the centre of our galaxy, is actually 25,800 light-years from Earth - nearly 2,000 light years closer than what we previously believed.

VERA (Radio Astrometry's VLBI Study, "VLBI" stands for Longest Baseline Interferometry) was launched in 2000 to map three-dimensional velocity and spatial structures in the Milky Way.

The project uses "interferometry" technology to combine data from multiple telescopes across Japan, creating ultra-high definition resolution of 10 microseconds - in other words, it's focused enough on spotting a coin on the surface of the moon.

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Since Earth is located inside the Milky Way, it is hard to step back and see what the galaxy looks like. There are several types of black holes, and scientists believe the supermassive ones may be connected to the formation of galaxies, as they often exist at the center of the massive star systems - but it's still not clear exactly how, or which form first. This year, the first Veera Astrometry Catalog was published which contained data for 99 objects.

From this map they calculated the location of the galactic center. Based on this catalog and recent observations by other groups, astronomers have created a map of location and velocity. The orbital speed of the solar system is also faster - 227 kilometers (141 miles) per second, rather than the official speed of 220 kilometers (137 miles) per second.

To better classify the structure and motion of the galaxy, VERA now hopes to observe more objects, especially those closer to the central wonder black hole.

"As part of these efforts VERA will participate in EAVN (East Asian VLBI Network) comprised of radio telescope located in Japan, South Korea, and China", they said. By increasing the number of binoculars and the maximum distance between the telescopes, the EAVN can achieve greater accuracy.

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