First Images of Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy Are Weeks Away

Though there are many artists' depictions of black holes, we've never actually seen one. NASA/ESAvia Getty Images

Updated |An international collaboration will allow humans to see a supermassive black hole for the first time. Although we have residual evidence of black holes' existence, such as measurements of the gravitational pull around the holes, we've never been able to see these invisible entities. Thanks to this ongoing project, we soon will.

Scientists believe that black holes exist at the center of every galaxy. Our galaxy's black hole is called Sagittarius A, and lurks within the Sagittarius constellation, NASA reports. Starting in April 2017, a team of international researchers linked telescopes around the globe, aiming them simultaneously at Sagittarius A, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory reported. This black hole is about 26,000 light years away from Earth and has a mass equal to 4 million suns.

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Photographing a black hole is no easy feat. First, as you've likely guessed by the name, these holes are immensely dark. In fact, because they are void of any light, the holes are actually invisible. This means traditional telescopes will not work. Instead, researchers have used something called a radio telescope to catch a glimpse of the black hole. A radio telescope can catch pictures of objects that are not visible to the human eye, and the tools are extremely helpful at taking images of objects that cannot be seen with visible light, such as a black hole. The telescopes measure electrical signals and translate that into a visual image.

The radio telescopes allowed for multiple images of this area of space from several different perspectives. At the moment, the data are all in and these radio images are being analyzed using computer software specifically designed to identify supermassive black holes, News AU reported. The image will be available in weeks to months.

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According to NASA, black holes are areas in space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. That feature makes them invisible to the human eye. Although black holes can be any size, with the smallest sometimes no bigger than a single atom, the largest are called supermassive black holes.

The image of Sagittarius A will show a silhouette of the black hole, since we cannot see the invisible giant object. Scientists are hoping to see an outline of the giant black hole against images of radiation.

Though we've never actually seen an image of a black hole, scientists have already speculated what it may look. The black hole itself is invisible, but the outline, or boundary of the hole, which is called the event horizon, can be detected. According to, a black hole photo would take more of a crescent shape than a blobby, round shape. At the center of the crescent would be a dark circle called the black hole shadow, which Space.comreports would represent the actual black hole.

The image may not be picture perfect, it will improve our understanding of these important, yet mysterious, space occurrences.

Update: This article has been updated with information on how a photograph of a black hole may look.