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Scientists Capture Image of Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy

JORDY DALEVAAR: The significance is that these black hole images help us to constrain general relativity. So they teach us something about gravity in the most extreme cases, because like gravity here on Earth is relatively males, but like close to a black hole, you just can't escape, like, even light cannot come out of a black hole, because it's so massive and so compact. So these are different scales. And then 2019, we already had the first image of a black hole. So that Black hole was 1000 times more massive than the one that we looked at presented today,

REBEKAH ROBINSON, HOST: You mentioned that the first image of the black hole that we saw was back in 2019, Why might it have taken us longer to get a picture of a black hole at the center of our center of our galaxy.

DALEVAAR: So the analogy that I really like is that in the case of the mache seven, you're looking at like all mature dog was just nicely sitting in your living room, you want to take a picture of it is very easy. So now we have a young puppy running around and spinning around trying to catch the steel and being extremely active, you try to take a picture of that, that's very hard if we all are aware of. So this is also what's happening with Sagittarius A star in our galaxy, it's 1000 times less massive, which makes it 1000 times smaller, is 1000 times smaller light propagates around also 1000 times smaller, faster. So Sagittarius A star changes its appearance every couple of minutes because everything goes a lot faster.

ROBINSON: When you say change appearance, what exactly are you referring to?

DALEVAAR: There is there's all kinds of material flowing around the black hole which is responsible for the emission that we see. So the way this looks like changes every minute right that's moving around as we are looking at it, you can Black looks a little bit like water and a sink. If you put the tap open you see the water switch carrying around your sink, right? This is also how blackhole routes. Like, if you have a very slowly moving waters three, things don't change that rapidly. But if there's materials floating around fast, you will all see like, kind of like wrinkles and bright spots and blobs of material that move around as time goes by.

ROBINSON: When New Yorkers hear about, you know, this, this first image at the center of our galaxy black hole, and they think, might think, well, how does this affect me? Like, what would you say to them in that moment?

DALEVAAR: Well, luckily, black holes don't affect our daily lives, we should be very grateful for that. Because they're extremely violent environments, that will definitely fry everything out of you and make you feel horrible. So in that sense, it's great that they're far away. But our understanding of gravity already revolutionized the way we live. For example, we fight all the time Stein's theory of general relativity, your GPS chip in your phone wouldn't work, like literally, it would be so often would be impossible to use. So like these fundamental questions that we ask ourselves, like, really how also the technological advance with like, we might not see it today. But we might see it in 50 years, like how this research will also impact us on a daily life.

ROBINSON: Thank you so much. Dr. Jordy Davelaar, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your afternoon.

DALEVAAR: Thank you. Thank you for reaching out

Jordy Davelaar is an astronomer at Columbia University

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