An amazing simulation gives you a virtual tour of the violent black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
The animation shows dust and gas whipping around the edges of Sagittarius A* at speeds of up to 56,000 miles per second (90,000 kilometers per second).
An amazing simulation gives you a virtual tour of the violent black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy
Scientists know the supermassive black hole sits in the middle of our galaxy, but have yet to get a good look at it because it is hidden behind huge plumes of gas.
Researchers at the Radboud University in the Netherlands and Goethe University in Germany have built the world’s first virtual reality simulation of the object.
They used a host of recent models of Sagittarius A* to show what the black hole may look like to the naked eye.
They suggest the 360-degree tour, which people can explore through a VR headset, could be useful for studying black holes.
‘Our virtual reality simulation creates one of the most realistic views of the direct surroundings of the black hole,’ said study coauthor Jordy Davelaar.
‘It will help us to learn more about how black holes behave.
‘Travelling to a black hole in our lifetime is impossible, so immersive visualizations like this can help us understand more about these systems from where we are?’
Sagittarius A* is located around 26,000 light years from Earth, and scientists estimate it measures 27 million miles (44 million km) across.
The black hole sucks in one per cent of all the matter that orbits it, which mostly consists of dust and gas drawn to the object by its phenomenal gravitational pull.
Sagittarius A* cannot be seen by telescopes because it absorbs visible light, and is also hidden from view by large dust clouds in the Milky Way’s spiral arms.
The animation shows dust and gas whipping around the center of Sagittarius A* at speeds of up to 56,000 miles per second (90,000 kilometers per second)
Professor Heino Falcke, a researchers at Radboud University, said his team’s simulation marked the first step in scientists’ quest to visualize the black hole.
‘We all have a picture in our head of how black holes supposedly look, but science has progressed and we can now make much more accurate renderings – these black holes look quite different from what we are used to.
‘These new visualizations are just the start, more to come in the future.’