Mystery Announcement About Milky Way: How and When to Watch Live Online

Scientists are due to reveal a "groundbreaking discovery" about our galaxy this morning, and you can watch the press conference live.

Late last month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that astronomers working with the Event Horizon Telescope had made a new finding about the center of the Milky Way.

It's likely that the discovery will be to do with the black hole at the center of our galaxy, which is called Sagittarius A*, since the Event Horizon Telescope is designed to observe black holes. It famously captured the first ever image of a black hole at the center of the galaxy M87, which was released in 2019.

It's also known that astronomers have been peering at Sagittarius A* for some time, with the NSF reporting back in January that astronomers had measured that it accounts for 99.9 percent of the mass at the galactic center.

It's not yet clear what exactly the discovery will be, but one expert told Newsweek it's possible that scientists have been able to directly image Sagittarius A*.

Spectacular Results

"The results they released on M87 were already pretty spectacular, but to some extent, they were a stepping stone to actually get to the analysis of the galactic center. So I think it is perfectly conceivable that they're going to present something similar for the galactic center," Alberto Vecchio, professor of astrophysics and director of the Institute of Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., said on Monday.

At the moment, the only black hole that has ever been directly imaged is the one at the center of M87, a galaxy over 50 million light years away.

The NSF announcement, whatever it is, will be made at a press conference on Thursday, May 12, at 9 a.m. ET. The conference will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., but will be streamed online on the NSF's website here and on the NSF's Facebook page here.

Event Horizon Telescope researchers will be participating in a public Q&A session at 10:30 a.m. ET, which can also be accessed at the above websites. The Q&A panel will include: Kazu Akiyama, a research scientist at the MIT Haystack Observatory; Richard Anantua, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Texas at San Antonio and associate at the Harvard College Observatory; Daryl Haggard, associate professor of physics at McGill University and the McGill Space Institute; Lia Medeiros, NSF postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study; and Dom Pesce, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard & Smithsonian and the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University.

Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole about 4.3 million times the mass of the sun. It is located around 26,000 light years from Earth, much closer than the one at the center of the galaxy M87.

Black hole
A file photo of an artist's depiction of a black hole. Scientists have been peering at Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which may be the subject of an upcoming "groundbreaking" astronomy announcement. Petrovich9/Getty