Sagittarius A* (it’s unclear to me if the asterisk is an official part of its name, or is just there to indicate a strike-shortened season) is a Super Massive Black Hole (SMBH) at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy (the one you’re sitting in right now.) Scientists have observed at least three stars orbiting it, as depicted in this courtroom artists’ sketch:
By going through years of photos taken by several telescopes, scientists were able to confirm Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity regarding planetary motion around a very heavy object.
Marzieh Parsa – a PhD student at the University of Cologne, Germany and lead author of the paper – was understandably excited with these results. As she stated in an ESO press statement:
“The Galactic Center really is the best laboratory to study the motion of stars in a relativistic environment. I was amazed how well we could apply the methods we developed with simulated stars to the high-precision data for the innermost high-velocity stars close to the supermassive black hole.”
There. You learned something new today. What else have you been hearing about? Tell us all about it.