(WHTM) — Comes news about some upcoming news. The European Southern Observatory and the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration have announced a press conference will be held on May 12, concerning “groundbreaking Milky Way results from the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration.”

The educated guess (or hot rumor) is that they will announce they’ve managed to image Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*, the black hole at the center of our home turf, the Milky Way Galaxy.

Why exactly is this exciting? The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration is a multinational project, linking radio telescopes across the globe to create a super-telescope with an effective diameter the size of the earth. The Event Horizon Telescope website describes the sharpness of the resulting image as “comparable to being able to read a newspaper on the Moon.”

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It was with this incredible resolving power that the EHT was able to get the first image of a black hole in 2019. Located in the M87 galaxy, 50 million light-years from Earth, the black hole is over six billion times more massive than the Sun. It’s hard to imagine just how huge the black hole is, though Randall Munroe did a pretty good job in his XKCD comic. (Keep in mind the bright circles are gas rotating around the black hole, which is the dark circle in the center. )

Sagittarius A* is much smaller than M87, at about 4.3 million times the mass of our sun. (It’s actually kind of small as supermassive black holes go.) It’s also closer to us, a mere 25,000 light-years or such so-a short walk down the block in interstellar terms. You’d think Sgr A* would be easier to photograph, being the closer of the two black holes, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

For starters, even though M87 was farther away, because of its size it looks almost the same size as Sgr A*. Because of its larger size, the gas clouds around M87 move more slowly. We also have more of a direct view of M87, with less material blocking the view.

Our solar system is located towards the outer edge of our galaxy. To photograph our black hole the telescopes have to punch through the stars, planets, and dust in the Milky Way’s disk. The dust and gas around Sagittarius A* is moving much faster than around M87, and flares on a highly irregular basis, which makes it that much harder to “stop the action”. It’s sort of like the difference between photographing a person sitting quietly in a chair, and a dog running through the woods.

So the difficulties are many, but not insurmountable. The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration has added telescopes to its array since 2019, learned from their successes (and failures) with M87, and refined its techniques. Have they indeed managed to capture an image of our galaxy’s central singularity?

We’ll have to wait until May 12 to find out.

To watch the press conference on May 12, click here

To view the Event Horizon Telescope site, click here.

To view the European Southern Observatory site, click here