The US National Science Foundation has ‘groundbreaking’ news about the Milky Way

Outside of this blue and green planet we call home, countless stars and planets surround us. Earth is part of a spiral galaxy called the Milky Way, and at its center is most likely a supermassive black hole. The black hole around which our entire world revolves is called Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* for short, and it’s incredibly huge — about 4.6 million times more massive than our sun, according to For further comparison, our sun is large enough that 1.3 million planet Earth could fit in it (via Cool Cosmos). Let that sink in for a moment.

Although we live relatively close to the black hole at the center of our galaxy, about 26,000 light-years away, it was Messier 87 (M87) that became the first black hole ever photographed. According to NASA, the M87 galaxy is about 54 million light-years from Earth and could be up to 6 billion times more massive than the sun. Despite the unimaginable size of the galaxy (and therefore the black hole it contains), you would think it would be easier to photograph something 26,000 light-years away than something 54 million light years. However, in the case of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, the fact that we reside there actually works against us. We’re surrounded by cosmic gas and dust, and there’s even more of both between us and the center of the Milky Way. But who wouldn’t want to see the black hole in our immediate vicinity?

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